The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services have settled Medicaid fraud charges against Vintage Pharmaceuticals and its parent Endo Pharmaceuticals. Vintage does business as Qualitest Pharmaceuticals. According to a federal whistleblower lawsuit, Qualitest and its affiliates were selling chewable fluoride tablets that contained just a small trace of the fluoride ion indicated on the label. Qualitest was also falsely billing federal healthcare programs for these tablets.
The fluoride ion is actively used to prevent cavities. Many rural areas of the country have no public water systems forcing residents to rely on private wells. In these areas, Fluoride tablets are often dispensed because of the lack of fluorinated water.
Medicaid and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program pick up the tab for these supplements when used by qualified patients. State health dollars also often pick up the cost of these pills.
Under the terms of the settlement, Qualitest agreed to charges that it’s fluoride supplement was dramatically understrength. The companies must pay $22.44 million to the federal government and $16.56 million to the states.
In announcing the settlement, a Health and Human Services spokesperson said,
“It is shocking that a pharmaceutical company would knowingly distribute diluted fluoride meant to provide preventative dental benefits to children as if it were full strength. We remain committed to investigating companies that put greed over their professional obligations to serve their customers and honestly bill for their products.”
We agree with prosecutors and are deeply disturbed that a huge national pharmaceutical company would knowingly put the dental health of kids at risk.
Most Medicaid fraud cases come to light because of the brave actions of whistleblowers. This case was no exception. The case against Qualitest and Endo was filed in 2013 by Dr. Stephan Porter. Today he will receive an award of $4.7 million for stepping forward.
Medicaid Fraud and the False Claims Act
Medicaid is paid with both state and federal tax dollars. Under the federal False Claims Act, Medicaid fraud whistleblowers can receive up to 30% of whatever the government recovers from wrongdoers. About half the states have a state Medicaid fraud law that also pays awards.
To qualify for an award, one must generally be the first to report the fraud and file a sealed complaint in court. Whistleblowers must also have inside or original source knowledge of the scheme. That means waiting too long to file or trying to collect an award based on what someone else told you probably won’t work.
Last year the federal government paid over $400 million in award monies. (Our clients received over $100 million!) The states with award programs paid tens of millions more.
Whistle blowers are the new American heroes. If you have information about understrength drugs or other healthcare fraud schemes, give us a call. Cases are handled on a contingent fee basis meaning there are no upfront fees or costs.
Still employed by the wrongdoer? Federal and most state laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Cases are also sealed (confidential) while they are being investigated by the government.
Give us a call and allow us to help you evaluate if you have a claim. All inquiries are always protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept strictly confidential. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731. You can also visit our pharmaceutical fraud information page.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower and Medicaid Fraud Lawyers