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The Dark Side of the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Look at Some of the Biggest Fraud Settlements to Date

While the pharmaceutical industry creates and administers life-changing medications that can keep us healthy, most of us may never see the dark side of the industry. A side that can impact our lives and the lives of our loved ones profoundly.

Many of us blindly trust our medical professionals to be caring, ethical beings that exist to champion our personal and community health. But when big pharma gives illegal kickbacks to physicians who falsely prescribe certain drugs or treatments, it erodes our trust in the medical system.

Big pharma fraud exists in various ways. Prescribers receiving remunerations for ordering medications off-label, offering free co-pay assistance programs that run astray of Federal Guidelines, and failing to report adverse events all constitute fraud. Take a look at these five very large pharma fraud settlements and how organizations like DJO Whistleblower Law Group are fighting to bring fraud to light.

  1. $3 billion: GlaxoSmithKline, 2012. In the largest settlement in health care fraud history, according to the Department of Justice, GlaxoSmithKline pled guilty to fraud allegations in 2012. GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $3 billion to resolve its liability in unlawfully promoting prescription drugs, its failure to report safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices.
  2. $51.25 million: Novartis, 2020. According to the Department of Justice Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation agreed to pay $51.25 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by illegally paying the Medicare co-pays for its own drugs.
  3. $2.3 billion: Pfizer, 2009. Pfizer and its subsidiaries Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. agreed to pay $2.3 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, according to the Department of Justice.
  4. $2.2 billion: Johnson & Johnson, 2013. In a report from the Department of Justice, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries agreed to pay $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil investigations. Violations included off-label marketing and kickbacks to doctors.
  5. $1.5 billion: Abbott Laboratories, 2012. The global health care company Abbott Laboratories Inc. pled guilty to off-label marketing and agreed to pay $1.5 billion. According to the Department of Justice, Abbott also maintained a specialized task force to target elderly dementia patients in nursing homes illegally.

These are just a few of the countless settlements that have occurred and continue to occur as new scams arise every day. All of these cases have one thing in common: targeting our vulnerable populations at taxpayers’ expense. When corruption finds its way into the pharmaceutical industry, it can be easy for these multi-billion dollar health care companies to take advantage of average citizens.

The dark side of the pharmaceutical industry has immense impacts on our society. Consumers, health care systems, and government entities suffer the consequences of illegal kickbacks that lead to diminished patient care, mistrust in the health care system, and misappropriation of publicly funded healthcare.

Our goal at DJO is to expose and report pharmaceutical fraud wherever and whenever possible. We work with individuals to gain information, build a case, and fight for taxpayers’ justice. In doing so, we can protect the vulnerable and make the world a safer place.

If you suspect pharma fraud in your organization, please contact us. DJO is comprised of a highly experienced team of whistleblower experts, lawyers, and even former whistleblowers, who strive to deliver the highest monetary reward for brave individuals who have valuable information that can expose fraud. If a whistleblower’s lawsuit is successful, the reward can be between 15% to 25% of the funds recovered. The False Claims Act also offers whistleblowers protection against job retaliation. Do you have valuable information that can help bring fraud to light? Speak to our experts today.