Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. has announced a $390 million settlement that will end alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act (FCA). The lawsuit filed under the FCA alleged that Novartis was paying kickbacks to doctors in order to persuade the doctors to prescribe Novartis’ products. The doctors were then reimbursed by federal health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
The lawsuit alleged that by tying financial incentives to prescribing drugs, Novartis not only defrauded the government, it also corrupted the judgment of the pharmacists. Because of the alleged kickbacks, doctors were prescribing the Novartis products even though these products were often more expensive and less effective than other rival drugs. In discussing the Novartis settlement, Stuart F. Delery, now Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States, had this to say:
Kickback schemes like those alleged in this case not only call into question the integrity of individual medical decisions, but they also raise the cost of health care for all of us. Patients deserve care based on a doctor’s sound medical judgment, not the doctor’s personal financial interest. The Department of Justice will continue to pursue companies that use improper incentives, like those alleged here, to promote their products.
I have mentioned on numerous occasions that the FCA includes a qui tam (whistleblower) provision, which allows private individuals to sue on behalf of the government when the government is being defrauded. The allegations in this case against Novartis include doctor payments that certainly appear to have violated the Anti-Kickback Statute, resulting in the government paying false claims for reimbursement. It’s become quite apparent that the government intends to combat health care fraud – a fraud that adds incredible cost and detriment to an already burdened system – and that is good for U.S. taxpayers. Any person who is aware of fraud being committed against the federal or state governments can be rewarded for reporting the fraud. Whistleblowers who expose fraud may be eligible for a reward of between 15 to 30 percent of monies recovered by the government.
If you have any questions about whether you might qualify as a whistleblower, contact a lawyer at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. We have a number of lawyers who handle whistleblower cases. There is a contact form on our firm’s website (www.beaselyallen.com), or you may contact one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Andrew Brashier, Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, or Lance Gould at <a href=”tel:+1-800-898-2034″ title=”Call Us @ 800-898-2034″>800-898-2034</a> or by email at <a href=”mailto:Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com” title=”Email Andrew Brashier”>Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com</a>, <a href=”mailto:Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com” title=”Email Archie Grubb”>Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com</a>, <a href=”mailto:Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com” title=”Email Larry Golston”>Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com</a>, or <a href=”Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com” title=”Email Lance Gould”>Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com</a>.
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