Cardinal Health has agreed to pay the United States and the states $ 13.125 million plus interest to resolve allegations that it induced physician practices to purchase specialty pharmaceutical products from it by paying customers remuneration in advance of the practice making any drug purchases and not in connection with specific purchases. This arrangement violates the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b) because it represents an illegal inducement to alter physicians’ decision-making. The practices submitted claims for payment to Medicare and Medicaid programs that were tainted by these kickbacks. Cardinal Health will also enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement. This is a kind of Compliance program that ensures Cardinal will follow the law in the future.
Our clients were concerned by Cardinal’s payment of these kickbacks. So we helped them bring valuable knowledge about the fraud to the attention of government prosecutors. Health care fraud is handled by prosecutors at the Department of Justice and the United States Attorneys’ offices. In 2019, we filed a qui tam complaint under the False Claims Act. Together with our clients we helped government prosecutors put a stop to the illegal conduct.
We are grateful to our attorneys at Whistleblower Law Collaborative and to the government investigators and attorneys. Together they were able to help and protect a very vulnerable patient population and will set a good precedent for the industry.
Whistleblower Law Collaborative commends the bravery and outstanding efforts of their clients and the government prosecutors. Attorney Suzanne Durrell praised her clients “willingness to risk coming forward. Our clients not only recognized the fraud, but because of their knowledge of industry practices, could explain it clearly and persuasively to the government prosecutors.”
Attorney David W.S. Lieberman stressed the speed and tenacity of the government prosecutors Evan Panich and Lindsey Ross. “These prosecutors immediately recognized a complex fraudulent scheme for what it was and moved forward with alacrity achieving a significant settlement in under two years.”
Cardinal Health recruited new customers by offering and paying cash bonuses in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act. Kickback schemes, such as this one, have the potential to pervert clinical decision-making and are detrimental to our federal health care system and taxpayers,
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins.
Cardinal Health thought it hit upon a surefire moneymaker by paying kickbacks to doctors, which cost health benefit programs millions of dollars in potentially fraudulent claims. Anyone involved in, or entertaining, similar activity should know that health care fraud is a priority for the FBI, and we will pursue anyone trying to profit from this country’s vital health care system.
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division.
The Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC is based in Boston. It devotes its nationwide practice to representing whistleblowers bringing actions under the federal and state False Claims Acts and other whistleblower programs. Under the False Claims Act, a private citizen who knows of fraud against the government can file a sealed complaint on behalf of the government. If the case is successful, the relator is entitled to a share of the government’s recovery. Among the firm’s many successes is the government’s $885 million settlement with AmerisourceBergen, another pharmaceutical drug wholesaler, for illegal repackaging of injectable drugs into pre-filled syringes.
For more information, contact the Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC at 617.366. 2800