Fake and gray market pharmaceuticals represent a growing problem in the United States. Medical providers pressed by mounting costs sometimes resort to purchasing drugs manufactured in Turkey, India and other foreign countries. Unless produced in an FDA inspected facility, there is no way to insure those drugs are safe or even contain the prescribed amount of active ingredients. Whistleblowers can become a potent weapon to stop the flow of these sometimes dangerous drugs.
Not all foreign made pharmaceuticals are dangerous but last November the feds announced that dozens of doctors were selling foreign made Avastin, a drug used to treat colon, lung and kidney cancer. The investigation revealed that the pills simply contained cornstarch and acetone (a common cleaning solvent). That means hundreds of patients were paying tens of thousands of dollars for life saving drugs that contained nothing more than cornstarch.
The FDA investigation resulted in a massive recall effort and stern warnings to some of the physicians selling the fake drug. One physician was criminally convicted of selling phony Avastin. Although he didn’t know the drug was fake, he still knew it came from an unlicensed source. By his own admission, he made hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit by purchasing the drug cheaply yet still billing Medicare and Medicaid the full rate.
Health care fraud occurs far to frequently. Investigators are simply spread too thin to monitor every prescription and every charge for service. Unscrupulous physicians and clinics often charge for services not provided or not medically necessary. The worst cases involve performing unnecessary but risky procedures and dispensing untested medications.
The first line of dispense in health care fraud cases are whistleblowers. Men and women who care enough to stand up and report fraud.
Under the federal false claims act and many state laws, whistleblowers are entitled to collect a cash award based on the amount recovered from the people responsible for the fraud. In health care cases, the awards typically range from several hundred thousand dollars to the tens of millions.
To qualify as a whistleblower, one must have inside, non-public information. There must also be a loss to a government program such as Medicare, Medicaid or a state assisted health care program. The case starts with the filing of a complaint in state or federal court.
Whistleblowers are important players in the battle against fraud. We believe they are the true American heroes protecting lives and saving taxpayers billions of dollars annually. If you wish to become a whistleblower or simply want to know if you have a claim, give us a call. Our false claims lawyers represent whistleblowers in a wide variety of cases. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
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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