Pharmaceutical fraud exists in many ways. However, one of the most common tactics used in the industry is illegal kickbacks.
Kickbacks are anything of value either directly or indirectly offered to a patient or physician that influences their medical decision to use a certain company or product. This action constitutes fraud because it undermines the ethics of our medical community.
When big pharma gives illegal kickbacks to physicians, it undermines the integrity of Federal Healthcare Programs. In this article, we analyze a recent case where whistleblowers played a significant role in reporting kickbacks paid by a pharmaceutical distributor.
Former Sales Rep Gets $109M for Blowing the Whistle on Doctor Kickbacks
In July of 2020, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation agreed to pay $678 million in separate settlements to resolve claims the drugmaker violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute. According to the DOJ, Novartis set up sham speaker programs as venues for paying physicians kickbacks to boost scripts of its drugs Lotrel, Valturna, Starlix, Tekturna, Tekamlo, Diovan, and Exforge. These events often involved lavish meals, fishing trips, and other entertainment.
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits anyone from offering or paying, directly or indirectly, anything of value, in an effort to induce or reward the referral of business covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded programs. Novartis was accused of violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by offering payment to healthcare practitioners in the form of cash, meals, and honoraria to encourage them to prescribe certain Novartis drug products.
The settlement resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former Novartis sales representative under the FCA in 2011. According to reports, law enforcement asked the whistleblower to wear a wire to record several bribes he paid to doctors.
As a result, Novartis agreed to pay $591 million to the United States as False Claims Act damages, $38.4 million to the United States as proceeds for violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, and the remaining $48 million to various states to resolve Medicaid claims. The whistleblower in this case is set to receive a reward of $109.4 million for his involvement in the case.
Do You Have Valuable Information That Can Lead to Exposing Fraud in the Pharmaceutical Industry?
Whistleblower law firms like DJO want to put an end to pharmaceutical fraud tactics that hurt consumers. 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 bring fraud to light.
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 or wrongful termination.
DJO will be there every step of the way to ensure you are safe and your information is confidential so you will have confidence knowing you’re doing the right thing. If you have valuable information that can help expose fraud, we encourage you to speak to our experts today.