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Novartis unit pays $150 million to end drug-price dispute

ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis' Sandoz unit has agreed to pay $150 million Swiss francs to settle claims it charged the U.S. and state governments inflated prices for drugs, a Swiss newspaper reported on Sunday.

Under the deal Novartis will pay the U.S. government $86.5 million and the states of California and Florida $40 million, and $15.2 million respectively. Ven-a-Care, a drug company from Florida, will receive $8.3 million.

"Sandoz agreed to the settlement to avoid further costs, unpleasantness and the uncertainty of a long-winded court hearing," Novartis spokeswoman Isabel Guerra told Der Sonntag newspaper.

Novartis made a provision for the $150 million in the second quarter, the paper said.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)