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Six More Charged in Lupron Scheme

July 16, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ Six former TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. employees were charged in federal court Tuesday for conspiracy and kickback crimes in connection with an illegal marketing scheme for the prostate cancer drug, Lupron.

The six indicted Tuesday join one physician and six TAP employees indicted last October with conspiracy to pay kickbacks to doctors and other customers, to defraud the state Medicaid programs and to violate the Prescription Drug Marketing Act by causing free samples of Lupron to be illegally billed to Medicare.

``The former TAP employees indicted today are charged with participating in a broad scheme that picked the pockets of many cancer stricken elderly Americans and all taxpayers,″ said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.

TAP Pharmaceutical, which agreed last October to pay $875 million to settle charges it inflated prices and bribed doctors to prescribe Lupron, was not charged in the superseding indictment.

Indicted Tuesday were: Donald Patton, 50, of Detroit, formerly a vice president for sales for TAP; Donald Meek, 54, of Lake Zurich, Ill., formerly a national director of sales at TAP; Eric Otterbein, 56, of Hawthorne Woods, Ill., former a national director of sales at TAP; Rita Jokiaho, 40, of Stoneham, formerly a district manager for TAP in Massachusetts; Carey Smith, 35, of California, formerly a manager of hospital account executives for TAP; and Mark Smith, 48, of Wadsworth, Ohio, formerly a district manager for TAP in the Midwest.

Requests for comment left with Mark Smith and Jokiaho were not immediately returned. Patton, Meek, Otterbein and Carey Smith could not be reached for comment.

The government claims that throughout the 1990s, TAP set and controlled the price at which the Medicare program reimbursed doctors for Lupron by reporting an average price that was higher than the price offered to doctors.

Sales representatives for the company allegedly urged doctors to seek reimbursement from Medicare for free samples, a violation of federal law.

TAP Pharmaceutical, of Lake Forest, Ill., is a 50-50 venture between Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., and Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd. in Japan.

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