September 16, 2022. The United States Department of Justice settled a case against the pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer Corporation. Under the terms of the settlement, Bayer paid $40 million. A former employee in the pharmaceutical company’s marketing department filed two qui tam lawsuits alleging violations of the False Claims Act. For reporting fraud, the whistleblower received approximately $11 million, and they pursued both cases after the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to intervene.
According to the allegations, the pharmaceutical company was paying kickbacks to healthcare providers to “induce them to utilize the drugs Trasylol and Avelox, and also marketed these drugs for off-label uses that were not reasonable and necessary.” This lawsuit was filed in the District of New Jersey and alleged that the because of these kickbacks, the pharmaceutical company caused submission of false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. The lawsuit that was transferred to the District of Minnesota entailed the pharmaceutical company knowingly misrepresenting the safety and efficacy of Baycol, a statin drug, and also renewing contracts with the Defense Logistics Agency based on these misrepresentations. To settle these allegations, Bayer paid $38,860,555 to the United States and $1,139,445 to the Medicaid Participating States. The Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General remarked about this settlement, “Today’s recovery highlights the critical role that whistleblowers play in the effective use of the False Claims Act to combat fraud in federal healthcare programs.”
The False Claims Act incentivizes private citizens to report fraud against the government and holds accountable companies that financially benefit from participation in government contracts and government-sponsored programs. The Department of Justice needs whistleblowers to the be the antidote to pharmaceutical fraud.