A former Novartis sales manager who exposed a kickback scheme involving two pharmacy companies received a whistleblower award of $12.2 million recently. Accredo Health Group Inc. paid $60 million to settle its part of the case filed under False Claims Act (FCA). Thus far, whistleblower David Kester has received nearly $15 million from the lawsuit he filed against Novartis, Accredo, and BioScrip Inc. Mr. Kester received more than $2.3 million when BioScrip agreed to settle the case with the U.S government for $11.7 million.
That total doesn’t include his part of the $390 million settlement Novartis entered into to resolve the kickback allegations, which is still undecided. However, if the court awards Mr. Kester 20 percent of that settlement, as it has in the Accredo and BioScrip settlements, Mr. Kester will receive $78 million, not including the $15 million he already received. He could potentially receive more or less, but his share of the Novartis recovery will be no less than $58 million.
Mr. Kester sued Novartis and the other companies in 2011 in a New York federal court, alleging Novartis gave Accredo and BioScrip discounts and rebates for performance in exchange for pushing Exjade, a drug used to treat patients with too much blood iron, and Myfortic, which is given to patients after an organ transplant.
Federal prosecutors investigated the case, ultimately opting to intervene against Novartis and BioScrip in October 2013 and Novartis in April 2015. The U.S. Justice Department caught Accredo scoring more patient referrals and other kickbacks from Novartis the same week it started investigating allegations against it in Mr. Kester’s complaint. In its settlement of the case, the specialty pharmacy company agreed to pay the U.S. $45 million and state regulators an additional $15 million for the costs to Medicare and Medicaid they incurred from the improper reimbursements.
Whistleblowers play a vital role in the government’s war against fraudsters; therefore, the FCA provides not only an avenue for one to become a whistleblower, it also provides incentives to urge ordinary citizens to become extraordinary by doing the right thing and blowing the whistle on fraud. These incentives include monetary rewards and protection against retaliation. Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for reporting the fraud.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact a lawyer at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Andrew Brashier, Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, or Lance Gould at 800-898-2034 or by email at Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com, Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com, Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com or Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com.
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