The eight largest False Claims Act settlements of 2010 alone accounted for recovery by the government of approximately $3.3 billion, and whistleblower rewards of more than $350 million. All eight involved pharmaceutical companies. Those eight settlements, in high-to-low order, are as follows:
- Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations relating to the sale of adulterated drugs. The qui tam lawsuit was brought on behalf of the government by whistleblower Cheryl Eckard, a former quality assurance manager for Glaxo, who filed the lawsuit after she was terminated from the company. As a reward for disclosing Glaxo’s fraud to the government, Ms. Eckard will receive a record $96 million share of the settlement-the largest reward ever received by a single whistleblower.
- Botox bust: Pharmaceutical company Allergan agreed to pay $600 million to resolve allegations that it unlawfully marketed Botox for off-label uses. As a reward for disclosing Allergan’s unlawful activity to the government, the whistleblowers will receive a $37.8 million share of the settlement.
- Pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca agreed to pay $520 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that the company engaged in off-label drug marketing and an unlawful kickback scheme in connection with the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel. As a reward for disclosing the unlawful conduct of AstraZeneca to the government, the whistleblower will receive more than $45 million from the settlement.
- Pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories, B. Braun Medical, and Roxane Laboratories agreed to pay $421.5 million to settle False Claims Act lawsuits alleging that the companies defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by falsely reporting inflated prices for numerous pharmaceutical products knowing that the government relied on those prices to establish reimbursement rates to healthcare providers. The whistleblowers will receive an $88.4 million share of the overall settlement as a reward for disclosing the fraud to the government.
- Forest Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay more than $313 million to settle civil and criminal allegations that the company engaged in unlawful practices in connection with the sale and marketing of its drugs, including promoting drugs for off-label uses, submitting claims for payment to the government for drugs that no longer qualified for coverage by federal healthcare programs, and payment of illegal kickbacks to physicians to induce them to prescribe drugs manufactured by Forest. As a reward for disclosing Forest’s unlawful activity, the whistleblowers will receive a $14 million share of the settlement.
- Pharmaceutical manufacturer Dey Inc. agreed to pay $280 million to settle a False Claims Act case alleging that the company falsely reported inflated prices for its drugs, which resulted in government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid paying higher reimbursement rates to healthcare providers for the drugs than would have been the case had Dey reported prices truthfully. As a reward for disclosing Dey’s fraud upon the government, the whistleblowers will receive a $67.2 million share of the overall settlement.
- Pharmaceutical company Novartis agreed to pay $237.5 million to settle False Claims Act lawsuits asserting that the company engaged in an unlawful off-label marketing scheme in connection with its anti-epileptic drug Trileptal and paid illegal kickbacks to physicians to encourage them to prescribe Trileptal, as well as other Novartis drugs.
- Irish pharmaceutical manufacturer, Elan Corporation, agreed to pay $214.5 million to resolve allegations that it unlawfully marketed the anti-seizure medication Zonegran for off-label uses. As a reward for disclosing Elan’s fraud to the government, the whistleblower will receive a $10 million share of the overall settlement.