Teva Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay $54 Million to settle false claims kickback allegations brought by two whistleblowers, Charles Arnstein and Hossam Senousy. In their 2013 complaint, the whistleblowers asserted that Teva Pharmaceuticals (“Teva”) violated the False Claims Act when the company knowingly induced physicians to prescribe two of the company’s drugs in exchange for “speaker fees.”
Physicians hosted Teva’s speaker events, which were attended by the speakers, their families, Teva employees, and various repeat attendees. In her memorandum decision and order denying Teva’s motion for summary judgment, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon pointed to the suspect audience in attendance as well as the event locations, and the amount of alcohol served as further evidence of the questionable nature of the events.
Physician speakers earned speaker fees for their event appearances. These same physicians subsequently prescribed the drugs Copaxone and Azilect, both manufactured by Teva. The physicians in question also encouraged other doctors to prescribe the medications that treated multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, respectively. Pharmacies across the United States filled the prescriptions and submitted reimbursement claims to government-funded healthcare programs. Reimbursement funds to the pharmacies are taxpayers’ dollars.
The whistleblowers allege that the reimbursement payments from the various Federal health care programs were a result of fraud, namely the questionable “speaker fees” paid to the physicians in exchange for their prescribing Copaxone and Azilect. Furthermore, the Anti-Kickback Statute of the False Claims Act makes it illegal to knowingly pay or offer to pay kickbacks, bribes, or rebates to encourage someone to recommend the purchase of a pharmaceutical covered by a Federal health care program.
The False Claims Act has been a vital tool in the fight against government programs fraud since its inception; however, the success of the act depends on private citizens like Charles Arnstein and Hossam Senousy who are willing and able to speak out against the wrong that they encounter and work closely with the help of an experienced False Claims Act attorney to get results for everyone. The settlement of this case is not only beneficial to the government from a monetary perspective, but it is also a win for the taxpayers – those who ultimately pay when companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals choose to defraud the government.
If you believe that you may have information about a company committing fraud against the government, the Qui Tam Attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei are readily available to assist in bringing forward a case. We have years of experience litigating under the False Claims Act by holding individuals and corporations accountable for fraud against the government. We have the resources to provide you with guidance on whistleblowing cases relating to fraud within government programs, securities and commodities, tax payments, the banking industry, and more. We have won our clients millions of dollars in compensation as a result of their efforts working with our lawyers and the government. If you would like to consult with one of our False Claims Act attorneys, please fill out our Confidential Case Evaluation Form or call (202) 973-0900 to speak with a lawyer.