US government: Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to pay $7.9 million over kickback allegations

The Justice Department says pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca will pay $7.9 million to settle allegations it engaged in a kickback scheme involving drugs such as heartburn medicines Nexium and Prilosec.

A department statement issued Wednesday says former employees allege AstraZeneca agreed to give price concessions to pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions in return for Medco keeping "sole and exclusive" status for Nexium on lists of approved medications. The concessions were on Prilosec and other drugs.

The government says as a result, false or fraudulent claims were submitted.

AstraZeneca issued a statement saying it denies the allegations.

There's been no determination of liability, and the government says the claims in the settlement are allegations only.

The former employees filed a lawsuit in Delaware, where the British company has its U.S. headquarters.