Recently we wrote about the record false claims act (whistleblower) award paid to pharmacist T. Mark Jones an his company Ven-A-Care. The sheer size of the awards – $597,000,000.00 is itself newsworthy and an inspiration to whistleblowers everywhere. Every time we write about a false claims act case, we get questions from readers. In this post we examine one of the case filed by Jones.
Big Pharma makes much of its money from Medicare and Medicaid, both programs being supported by tax dollars. Jones claimed at Abbott Laboratories ($35 billion in annual revenues) sold drugs at one price to healthcare providers while reporting much higher prices. For example, Abbott sold its antibiotic Vancomycin at $4 per dose while reporting the price at $72 per dose!
Why the discrepancy? Great question – Medicare and Medicaid relied on the higher reported prices when setting reimbursement rates. Doctors prescribing Abbott’s drugs would get a “kickback” in the form of inflated reimbursement. That, of course made Abbott popular with doctors, hospitals and nursing homes who then prescribed more drugs.
Everybody wins – except taxpayers who are left paying the bill.
Abbott denied the allegations in the false claims act suit but settled and paid $126 million to the government.
In addition to hurting taxpayers, these kickback schemes threaten patient health. Doctors should prescribe drugs based on the needs and best interests of their patients. not the size of kickbacks. While we would like to think that kickbacks are never a factor in healthcare decisions, decades worth of false claims act cases against doctors and clinics reveal otherwise.
Healthcare fraud costs taxpayers billions each year. Many people go without necessary care because fraud has depleted the availability of healthcare dollars. And some patients are injured or even killed when doctors put profit ahead of patient care. Fortunately, laws such as the federal and state false claims act laws provide a powerful incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and report fraud.
Under the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers with inside, non public information about fraud can receive up to 30% of whatever the government collects based on their information. Typical awards are 20%.
If you wish to become a whistleblower and think you have a false claims case, give us a call. We represent whistleblowers and help them stop fraud and collect the largest award possible.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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Posted by Brian Mahany, Esq.