DOJ investigates Alere, calling Abbott deal into question

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a subpoena to Alere in July seeking records related to patient samples tested at the company’s pain management laboratory in Austin, Texas, in 2010.

Alere acknowledged the probe on July 27 after the Wall Street Journal reported the DOJ asked the company for information on how it collects copayments from patients and submits forms on patients’ behalf to government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The newspaper also said that the DOJ is investigating if Alere made payments to doctors for ordering tests.

Alere offers meters and tests for cardiometabolic disease, infectious disease and toxicology.

Alere’s news release only mentioned the subpoena regarding its pain management laboratory for Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare billings, which the company said accounts for less than 1 percent of its revenue.

“Alere believes the matters to which the subpoena relates are not material,” the company said.

In February, Abbott agreed to acquire Alere for approximately $5.8 billion. Abbott later tried to terminate the deal after Alere was involved in foreign corruption probes. Abbott offered to provide Alere with $30 million to $50 million, but Alere rejected the offer.

Alere said in April that “it is completely confident that there is no basis for a termination of the merger agreement and that the merger will be consummated in accordance with its terms.”

Alere is conducting an internal investigation into charges from the federal government regarding its business practices in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The company said that investigation has delayed reporting of its 2015 annual report.

In July, Alere voluntarily recalled its INRatio and INRatio 2 prothrombin time/international normalized ratio monitoring system, which is used to monitor warfarin.