Pharmacies that sold Serostim might be investigated

BY Matthew Van Atta

October 22 2005 12:00 AM ET

Court papers
filed in conjunction with a $704 million settlement over the
sales and pricing practices of the HIV-related wasting drug
Serostim suggest that some U.S. pharmacies that sold
the drug might also be investigated by federal
authorities, The
Boston Globe reports. Serono Laboratories, the
maker of Serostim, agreed to the massive fine after
authorities investigated claims that company employees
offered bribes to doctors that would increase the
number of prescriptions they wrote for the pricey

But court
documents suggest that Serono may also have provided
Serostim to some pharmacies at discounts of up to 4%
and that those pharmacies then sold the drug at full
market price and pocketed the difference, which would
violate federal drug-pricing regulations. Because a 12-week
course of Serostim costs about $21,000, the 4% discounts
would have resulted in about $840 in increased profit
per prescription for pharmacies that sold the
medication at standard rates.

The documents do
not name the specific pharmacies alleged to have been
offered the discounted Serostim, but investigators at the
U.S. Department of Justice say that because of the
allegations, they may expand their ongoing
investigation to include U.S. pharmacies that sold the
medication. (

Tags: Health