Pharmaceutical Company Agrees To $54 Million To Settle False Claims Kickback Allegations
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.