Drug Companies Have Paid $1.6 Billion Since 2001 To Settle Whistleblower Suits
Six pharmaceutical companies have paid a total of $1.6 billion since 2001 to settle seven whistleblower lawsuits alleging marketing, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, according to a report released Wednesday by the Taxpayers Against Fraud, the New York Times reports. Although the cases are sealed until they are resolved, they were all filed under the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government when they believe the government is being defrauded. The cases -- brought against AstraZeneca, Bayer, Dey, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and TAP Pharmaceuticals -- were started by whistleblowers, and government attorneys later became involved, according to the report. The suits alleged that the drug companies offered discounts to some purchasers but failed to report the lowest price to the government, as required by law. In addition, the suits alleged the drug makers inflated the difference between the reported and actual drug prices, which would allow physicians to bill government programs for more than they paid for the drugs. The report recommends restructuring physician reimbursements to avoid fraud. It also recommends changes to regulations that allow pharmaceutical companies to destroy pricing records after three years (Harris, New York Times, 11/6). The report is available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.