Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. agreed to pay $269.2 million to settle U.S. claims that the drugstore chain defrauded a federally-funded health care program over insulin drugs and a consumer-discount initiative.
The two settlements, announced Tuesday, cover allegations over improper billing. In the first one, the company agreed to pay $209.2 million to resolve claims it billed Medicare, Medicaid and other programs for hundreds of thousands of insulin pens it distributed to people who didn’t need them. In the second, Walgreens said it would pay $60 million for overbilling Medicaid by not disclosing lower drug prices it offered in a discount program.
The accords come as scrutiny of health care costs increases across the country. The Trump administration has been focused on trying to drive down prescription-drug costs, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have introduced bills aimed at capping pharmaceutical prices. States including California have also floated plans to try to rein in spending on prescription drugs.
Walgreens is also confronting an increasingly competitive retail and pharmacy landscape after rival CVS Health Corp. agreed to acquire health insurer Aetna Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. bought online pharmacy PillPack.
“Overbilling and improper billing of Medicare and Medicaid unduly burden taxpayers and put the solvency of these vital health care programs at risk,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in a statement. The company “admitted and accepted responsibility for the conduct the government alleged in its complaints under the False Claims Act.”
Walgreens said in a statement that it is pleased to have resolved the suits, cooperated with the government and “admitted no wrongdoing.” The company declined to elaborate on whether it “accepted responsibility” for the allegations in the U.S. complaint, as prosecutors said.
“We are resolving these matters because we believe it is in the best interest of our customers, patients and other stakeholders to move forward,” the company said in a statement.