FALSE CLAIMS ACT WHISTLEBLOWER WILL RECEIVE A $400,000 REWARD
Pharmacy company Omnicare Inc. has agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that it accepted kickbacks from pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. The kickbacks allegedly were paid in the form of “rebates” to induce the pharmacy to switch Medicaid beneficiaries from a competitor drug to Amgen’s product Aranesp.
The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that so-called “performance-based rebates” were actually kickbacks paid to the pharmacy in return for switching patients from their existing medications to Amgen’s Aransep product. The complaint also alleged that more traditional forms of kickbacks were paid disguised as grants, speaker fees, consulting services, data fees, dinners and travel.
According to the whistleblower complaint, the pharmaceutical company agreed to a “rebate contract” that gave the pharmacy an incentive to convert patients at long-term care facilities from Procrit to Aranesp. The pharmacy allegedly earned rebates based on a sliding scale. For example, if the pharmacy purchased $9.9 million or more of Aranesp during one quarter, it would earn a 3% rebate. But if it purchased $13.4 million or more of Aranesp, the pharmacy would receive a 23% rebate.
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits healthcare providers from soliciting or accepting anything of value in return for patient referrals or the selection of a particular pharmaceutical product. The purpose of the Anti-Kickback Statute is to ensure that decisions affecting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, particularly vulnerable patients in skilled nursing facilities, are based on the best interests of the patients and are not improperly influenced by financial incentives.
This settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act. Whistleblowers who help the government recover money for false claims to Medicare and Medicaid earn rewards based on the amount of money recovered. The whistleblower who brought the lawsuit in this case will receive a reward of almost $400,000.
If you are aware that a pharmaceutical company, hospital, or other healthcare provider is giving pharmacists or doctors anything of value -- rebates, cash, or below-market office space and staff -- in return for patient referrals or prescriptions, then you should contact an experienced whistleblower attorney immediately to protect your rights. You may be entitled to a significant reward and other whistleblower protections.
To arrange a free and confidential consultation with an experienced whistleblower attorney, call John Howley, Esq. at (212) 601-2728 or click here to reach our office via email.
John Howley, Esq.
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