A former Abbott Laboratories employee will receive a $1 million whistleblower reward for reporting kickbacks between the pharmaceutical giant and the second largest nursing home consulting pharmacy in the country.
Meredith McCoyd and another former Abbott Laboratories employee brought lawsuits under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under that law, an individual citizen who has evidence of false claims submitted to government programs may start a lawsuit on behalf of the government. The lawsuit is filed “under seal” (in secret) and the evidence is disclosed only to the government. The government then investigates the claims and decides whether to pursue the suit.
If the government recovers money as a result of the lawsuit, the whistleblower is entitled to a reward of between 15% and 30% of the amount actually recovered.
Ms. McCoyd filed a qui tam lawsuit alleging that Abbott Laboratories paid kickbacks to pharmacies in exchange for promoting the company’s prescription drug Depakote for nursing home patients. She alleged that the kickbacks were disguised as rebates, educational grants and other financial support.
Under the Anti-Kickback Law, it is illegal for a pharmaceutical company or healthcare provider to offer or pay anything of value in return for referrals of Medicare or Medicaid patients. If kickbacks are paid, then every resulting claim for reimbursement is deemed a “false claim.”
Both the entity that pays the kickbacks and the entity that receives the kickbacks may be liable for treble damages and penalties.
In this case, the consulting pharmacy agreed to pay $6.5 million to the federal government and $2.5 million to state governments to resolve claims that it accepted kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories. The whistleblower who started the qui tam lawsuit will receive a reward of $1 million from the federal government. She may also receive whistleblower rewards from the state governments under their false claims acts.
If you have evidence that a pharmaceutical company or healthcare provider is paying or receiving anything of value in return for patient referrals, then you should consult with an experienced whistleblower lawyer immediately to protect your rights. You may be eligible for a substantial reward and legal protections as a whistleblower.
To arrange a free and confidential consultation, call John Howley, Esq. at (212) 601-2728.
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