Few decisions are as important as those regarding our health and the health of our loved ones. Decisions about medications, like many other health-related issues, involves a weighing of risks and benefits. With increased direct-to-consumer advertising and pressure on doctors from corporations, this calculus can be extremely hard. Americans must be able to trust that information released by pharmaceutical companies is accurate. In some cases, pharmaceutical company fraud can amount to a violation of the False Claims Act which means ordinary Americans have the power to fight back with the help of our health care fraud law firm.
Settlement in Suit Alleging Pharmaceutical Companies Misled Doctors and Others About Cancer Drug
On June 6, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceuticals LLC will collectively pay $67 million to settle allegations the companies made misleading statements about the drug Tarceva. A lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act alleged that, from 2006 through 2011, the companies made misleading representations to medical care providers about Tarceva’s ability to treat certain non-small cell lung cancers. In actuality, according to the DOJ, there was little evidence that Tarceva could treat these cancers unless a patient had never smoked or had a particular mutation in their epidermal growth factor receptor.
The case against the pharmaceutical companies was filed by a former employee of Genentech in a federal court located in San Francisco. The $67 million settlement includes $62.6 million allocated to the federal government and $4.4 million to state Medicaid programs. A reward of approximately $10 million from the overall settlement proceeds will go to the whistleblower. A Food and Drug Administration representative commented on importance of the lawsuit and others like it, noting: “Pharmaceutical companies that make misleading or unsubstantiated statements about their products can put patients at risk.”
Using the False Claims Act to Combat Pharmaceutical Fraud
The False Claims Act is a powerful tool for combatting fraud. It applies in many health care fraud cases when these wrongs amount to fraud on Medicare, Medicaid, or another government program. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have often been named in False Claims Act cases. For example, just last week Fortune magazine reported that Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to pay $54 million to settle claims it paid illegal kickbacks to induce doctors to prescribe several products manufactured by its Salix unit. According to the DOJ, False Claims Act cases involving pharmaceutical companies accounted for $96 million in settlements and judgments in 2015 alone.
A Law Firm for Whistleblowers
When pharmaceutical companies commit fraud, they put profit above patient well-being and endanger lives in the process. If you are aware of a pharmaceutical company committing fraud on the government and thus on the American people, you have the power to make a difference. Call our pharmaceutical fraud hotline at (800) 427-7020 to learn more and arrange a consultation with an experienced False Claims Act attorney. Don’t stay silent.
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(Image of pharmacy symbols by Kai Schreiber; Image of pill by Bill David Brooks)