New Jersey Pharmaceutical Company Agrees to Pay $39 Million to Settle Alleged Anti-Kickback Violations
On January 9, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo, headquartered in New Jersey, agreed to pay the Government $39 million to settle claims that it violated the Anti-Kickback Statue and the False Claims Act (FCA) by allegedly incentivizing physicians to prescribe Daiichi drugs by providing kickbacks to those doctors. The drugs prescribed as a result of those alleged kickbacks were billed under the Medicare or Medicaid Program, and thus paid for, at least in part, by the government. This lawsuit was filed by former Daiichi sales representative Kathy Fragoules under the qui tam whistleblower provision of the FCA. Fragoules will receive an award of $6.1 million, which represents approximately 15 percent of the settlement amount, for exposing Daiicho Sankyo’s alleged illegal practices.
The qui tam lawsuit, originally filed on behalf of the government by Fragoules, claims that for a period of six years, from January 1, 2005 to March 31, 2011, Daiichi Sankyo allegedly devised a scheme to promote several of its drug products by offering monetary kickbacks to physicians that prescribed Daiichi drugs to their patients. The Physician Self-Referral Statue and the Anti-Kickback Statue prohibit anyone from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration in order to induce business reimbursed under the Medicare or Medicaid programs. However, according to the government, Daiichi allegedly orchestrated kickback compensation to physicians in the form of speaker fees by allegedly funneling payment to health care providers through the Daiichi’s Physician Organization and Discussion programs known as PODs. In doing so, the government claims that Daiichi knowingly and willfully violated the FCA.
Physician drug ordering and prescribing decisions continue to be influenced by the drug industry. Last year, the DOJ reported billions in settlements in connection with the pharmaceutical industry arising out of violations of the Physician Self-Referral Statue and the Anti-Kickback Statue. The government also paid out millions in awards to individuals and whistleblowers that exposed these alleged illegal practices through the filing of qui tam lawsuits under the FCA. A whistleblower who files a case against a company that has committed fraud against the government, may receive compensation of up to 30 percent of the amount ultimately recovered by the government.