Fierce Pharma reported on January 7, 2020, that Teva, a drug maker, has agreed to pay the $54 million sum to settle a claim brought by a whistleblower that it paid kickbacks, in the form of sham consultant and speaker fees, to several doctors. The whistleblowers were two former sales representative for Teva. The kickbacks were alleged to have been made to boost sales of the company’s drugs – Copaxone and Azilect. Copaxone is used to treat multiple sclerosis. Azilect is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The whistleblowers filed their claim in 2013. They claimed that the doctors were being paid for events that did not serve an educational purpose.
The US Justice Department declined to intervene in the case which meant that whistleblowers, with the help of legal counsel, were forced to bring the case on their own. A US judge had denied Teva’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case.
Since the drugs were paid for through federal health programs, the alleged kickbacks were covered by both the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act. In cases brought through the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are entitled to a significant percentage of any recovery. That percentage is usually larger when the DOJ declines to intervene because the whistleblowers are required to do much more work to obtain a recovery. The recovery amounts usually include the amount that was improperly billed to the federal health care programs and statutory fines. The fines can be quite substantial.
The settlement comes on top of a recent settlement by Teva to pay $85 million to settle an opioid litigation lawsuit in Oklahoma and to settle Ohio opioid lawsuits for $20 million plus another $25 million in free drugs.
If you know of any fraud involving the healthcare industry or an industry that is paid for services and products by the government, you may be entitled to file a whistleblower claim. If your claim is successful, you may be entitled to a percentage of any recovery. The California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates has the experience and resources to help you file and pursue your case. For help now, call us