Whistleblower Brings $28 Million in Pharmacy Kickback Allegations to Light
Kickback allegations that were leveled at the largest nursing home pharmacy in the United States, Omnicare, Inc., by a whistleblower in a qui tam suit have been resolved. In October, 2016, the suit was settled, with Omnicare saying they would pay $28.125 million due to allegations that they both asked for and received kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in return for promoting the use of an Abbott drug with nursing home patients.
Omnicare and similar organizations make routine use of consultant pharmacists. Pharmacists who act as consultants are relied upon by nursing homes to examine their residents’ medical charts on a regular basis in order to recommend which drugs the patients should take. The current settlement resolved the allegations that Depakote, an anti-epileptic drug manufactured by Abbott, was recommended by Omnicare to certain nursing home patients because of kickbacks.
The government claimed that the kickbacks were disguised in a number of ways. Supposedly, Abbott’s payments to Omnicare were called “grants” and “educational funding.” One example was Omnicare’s “Re*View” program, which the company claimed had “health management” and “educational” purposes, but it is alleged that the program was purely for facilitating kickbacks. Other allegations include rebates that were based both upon the number of nursing home patients receiving Depakote and the amounts of the drug that the patients were prescribed.
Expressing his dismay, Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) had this to say about the case: “It is disturbing that any health care corporation would pay kickbacks that corrupt the professional medical decision-making process in order to pad their profits. These practices are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The case also involved numerous state Medicaid programs. Roughly $20.3 million of the settlement will be paid to the U.S. government, with $7.8 million to be divided among the states that chose to take part in the settlement in order to cover the Medicaid claims. Medicaid is a program that is funded by both state and federal governments.
While the case began as a qui tam suit, the government elected to join the case in 2014. The whistleblower will receive $3 million from the federal share collected.
The current settlement is not the first time that Omnicare has had a suit brought against them by a whistleblower. In June, 2014, a settlement between Omnicare and the U.S. government was reached for $124 million. It was alleged that the company presented improper financial incentives to skilled nursing facilities. The whistleblower in that case was awarded $17.24 million.
Whistleblowers are always needed to take down fraud on the part of pharmacies that are dedicated to serving nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other skilled nursing facilities. The Louthian Law Firm stands ready to assist you in your efforts.
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If you think you have the facts needed to bring a whistleblower case, the experienced whistleblower attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case and help you file the appropriate disclosure statement. Under some circumstances, the government will intervene, or join in your lawsuit.
Your chances of succeeding are greater if your whistleblower claim is substantive, clear, and to the point. Because of this, meeting with a qualified whistleblower attorney can increase your chances of winning. The Louthian Law Firm can help you form your claim so that the government will be more inclined to intervene in your case; government intervention can sometimes increase the chances of recovering reward money. Even if the government decides not to intervene, it could still be a good idea to pursue your case without government involvement. Our strong support system can assist you through every step of the process.
For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200 or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.