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Sanofi-Aventis to pay $109M kickbacks settlement

NEW YORK The U.S. subsidiaries of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi will pay $109 million to settle allegations they gave kickbacks to induce doctors to buy and prescribe Hyalgan, a knee injection.

The Justice Department alleges that Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC violated the False Claims Act by giving doctors thousands of free units of Hyalgan as the drug faced pressure from a lower-priced competitor.

"Patients expect their health providers to be concerned solely with their best medical interests" said Daniel Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health, in a statement. "Kickbacks undermine that all-important patient trust, and taxpayers' expectation that government health dollars be put only to the wisest of uses."

The agency also alleges Sanofi submitted false reports on the average sale price of Hyalgan that excluded the free units, causing Medicare and other federal health care programs to reimburse the company at inflated rates.

Officials at the company's U.S. base in Bridgewater, N.J., weren't immediately available to comment.

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