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C R Bard to pay $48 million to settle kickback allegations, DOJ says

(Reuters) - Medical device maker C.R. Bard Inc will pay about $48.3 million to resolve allegations it made illegal payments to hospitals and physicians to entice them to buy its radiation treatment for prostate cancer, the Justice Department said.

The illegal payments allegedly took the form of grants, rebates, conference fees, marketing assistance and free medical equipment that Bard provided between 1998 and 2006 to customers who used its brachytherapy seeds to treat prostate cancer, DOJ said Monday.

Hospitals submitted bills for the seeds to the Medicare program for the elderly, in violation of the False Claims Act, DOJ said.

A Bard spokesman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by whistleblower Julie Darity, a former Bard manager.

Darity will receive about $10.1 million as her share of the civil settlement, DOJ said.

Bard has agreed to pay an additional $2.2 million to the government and to take remedial steps to improve its compliance program as part of a non-prosecution agreement, DOJ said.

(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; editing by Andrew Hay)