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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Wisconsin has joined with other states and the federal government to settle allegations that Genzyme Corp. (Genzyme) marketed and caused false claims to be submitted to federal and state health care programs for use of a “slurry” version of its Seprafilm adhesion barrier. Seprafilm is a thin film intended to reduce adhesions after surgery by forming a bio-resorbable barrier between abdominal tissue and organs. Genzyme is a biotechnology corporation based in Cambridge, Mass., and was acquired by Sanofi-Aventis SA in April 2011.
As part of the settlement, Wisconsin Medicaid will receive $44,698.27 in restitution and other recoveries. Medicaid is a health insurance program for the needy and disabled jointly funded by the state and federal governments.
The agreement resolves allegations that Genzyme sales representatives taught doctors and other staff to cut the Seprafilm sheets into small pieces, add saline and allow the pieces to dissolve until the desired consistency was reached. This mixture was referred to as “slurry.” Genzyme sales representatives traded recipes for slurry, and trained each other in how to create it. The slurry was used in laparoscopic surgeries by inserting a catheter filled with the mixture into the body and applying it into the abdominal cavity. Seprafilm is FDA-approved for use in open abdominal surgery but not for minimally invasive surgeries, such as laparoscopic surgery. Allegedly, as a result of this conduct, Genzyme knowingly caused hospitals and other purchasers of Seprafilm to submit false and fraudulent claims to health care programs for uses that were not reimbursable.