September 29, 2022. A former pharmaceutical company employee turned whistleblower will receive approximately $250 million or 29.6% of the settlement in a qui tam case against his previous employer. Per the settlement agreement, pharmaceutical company Biogen will pay a $900 million settlement to the federal government and 15 states. After the United States declined to intervene in his qui tam case, the whistleblower continued to pursue litigation against the company for their alleged payment of kickbacks to physicians in order to induce them to prescribe Biogen drugs.
As previously reported on this blog, the pharmaceutical company set up a speaker program through which it allegedly paid kickbacks to physicians. Physicians who participated in the program were paid extremely high honoraria and attended presentations in exotic locales, but the physicians never had to follow through on participating or presenting in the program. Because the physicians were “tainted” by these fancy events sponsored by the pharmaceutical manufacturer, the whistleblower alleged any claims to Medicare or Medicaid these healthcare providers submitted for Biogen’s MS drugs were false claims.
Under the Anti-Kickback Statute, it is illegal for healthcare providers to accept anything of value “knowingly and willfully” in return for Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally-funded healthcare business. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries—the taxpayers who are picking up the bill—deserve to see healthcare providers who are free from the influence of corporations. The Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General explained what whistleblowers can do: “The settlement announced today underscores the critical role that whistleblowers play in complementing the United States’ use of the False Claims Act to combat fraud affecting federal health care programs.”
If you would like to report Medicare or Medicaid fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected] or contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664). Visit Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at https://www.fraudfighters.net/.