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Omnicare, Inc., the country’s largest nursing home pharmacy, faces yet another allegation of misconduct with respect to nursing home patients. Last month the United States intervened in two whistleblower cases against Omnicare accusing it of accepting kickbacks from drug manufacturer Abbott Laboratories in return for promoting Abbott’s drug Depakote, an anti-epileptic drug, for controlling behavioral disturbances exhibited by dementia patients residing in nursing homes serviced by Omnicare. According to the United States’ complaint, Omnicare’s pharmacists reviewed nursing home patients’ charts at least monthly and made recommendations to physicians on what drugs should be prescribed for those patients. The government alleges that Omnicare touted its influence over physicians in nursing homes in order to secure kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott, and disguised the kickbacks it received from Abbott in a variety of ways.
Over the last several years, Omnicare has settled several FCA cases alleging it violated the law with respect to nursing home patients. Among these were a $124 Million settlement in June 2014; and $112 Million settlement in November 2009.
All of this might lead one to wonder how it is that neither Omnicare nor any of its officers and employees have been charged criminally or been excluded from serving Medicare and Medicaid nursing home patients. Instead, HHS OIG has allowed Omnicare to enter into Corporate Integrity Agreements in an effort to retrain Omnicare and its employees. Repeat offenders such as Omnicare contribute to the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of FCA settlements and CIAs in deterring future misconduct.