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Attorney General Nessel Announces $1.7 MM Settlement with Walgreens

LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today that Michigan – along with the United States, the District of Columbia, and all 49 other states – has entered into a $209.2 million settlement with Walgreens Boots Alliance (Walgreens). Michigan’s share is $1,706,705. 

The settlement resolves allegations that from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2017, Walgreens engaged in fraudulent over-dispensing of insulin pens to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Walgreens operates the largest retail pharmacy chain in the U.S., with 8,309 locations across all 50 states. Walgreens has 233 locations in Michigan.

“Partnerships, both state and national, are essential to protecting Michigan’s interests, our taxpayers and our Medicaid program,” said Nessel.  “We expect pharmacies to adhere to the rules in a manner that keeps public costs down — not in a manner that impermissibly inflates their profits.”

Insulin pens are a common way for diabetic patients to self-administer insulin. Manufacturers distribute insulin pens in tamper-evident cartons containing five individual pens. Each pen is filled with three milliliters of insulin solution, equivalent to 300 units of the drug. These multi-use syringes look like ink pens and have dials on one end that let patients set the individual dose as their doctor prescribes. A small, disposable screw-on needle is placed on the opposite end. A pen can be reused until it is empty or expired but requires a new disposable needle with each use. Although pens are typically provided to pharmacies in a box of five, each pen is separately sealed and can be dispensed individually to patients.  

By only selling insulin pens individually, Walgreens forced Michigan Medicaid to pay for medication that wasn’t prescribed, resulting in large overpayments for the drug.