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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey recently announced a $750,000 settlement with Sentynl Therapeutics Inc., a California-based specialty pharmaceutical company. The settlement resolved allegations that Sentynl improperly provided kickbacks to a physician to induce prescriptions of its opioid products in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS).

The Government alleged that Sentynl hired the girlfriend of a leading prescriber of Transmucosal Immediate Release Fentanyl (TIRF) medications in South Florida. The physician’s girlfriend was employed by Sentynl as a sales representative and was paid salary and bonus payments, allegedly to induce the physician to prescribe opioid medications sold by Sentynl. The Government alleged that because of this improper remuneration, Sentynl knowingly caused the submission of false claims in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA).

Sentynl paid the government $750,000 in return for a release from any civil or administrative monetary claim under the FCA, the Civil Monetary Penalties Law, the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act, or the common-law theories of payment by mistake, unjust enrichment, and fraud. The Government reserved its right to bring any tax-based or criminal claims and any administrative liability or enforcement rights, including mandatory or permissive exclusion from federal health care programs.

In a statement, Sentynl said that it “strongly denies the U.S. Department of Justice’s allegations.” The company pointed out that the settlement included a “nominal” payment and no acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

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