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Advanced Care Scripts Inc., $1.4 million

United States of America ex rel. Paul Nee v. Biogen, Inc., et. al. District of Massachusetts.

GBB attorneys settled this qui tam suit against Advanced Care Scripts and Biogen, one of the worlds’ largest pharmaceutical companies. The complaint, filed by a whistleblower under the False Claims Act, alleged that Defendants used charitable organizations in a kickback scheme to pay the Medicare copays for multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri. Medicare subsequently paid the claims for these drugs, which can cost as much $80,000 per patient per year. 

Read more: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pharma-giant-and-speciality-pharmacy-settle-case-alleging-false-claims-violations-301195541.html?tc=eml_cleartime

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Biogen Inc., $22 million

United States of America ex rel. Paul Nee v. Biogen, Inc., et. al. District of Massachusetts.

GBB attorneys settled this qui tam suit against Advanced Care Scripts and Biogen, one of the worlds’ largest pharmaceutical companies. The complaint, filed by a whistleblower under the False Claims Act, alleged that Defendants used charitable organizations in a kickback scheme to pay the Medicare copays for multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri. Medicare subsequently paid the claims for these drugs, which can cost as much $80,000 per patient per year. 

Read more: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pharma-giant-and-speciality-pharmacy-settle-case-alleging-false-claims-violations-301195541.html?tc=eml_cleartime

Peer Review Doesn’t Apply in False Claims Act Suit

Massachusetts General Hospital could not assert the medical peer review privilege to block production of documents sought by a whistleblower in her False Claims Act suit over the hospital’s alleged double and triple booking of surgeries, a U.S. magistrate judge has ruled.

. . .

During discovery, Wollman (relator) moved to compel production of medical peer review records and communications. In response, MGH asserted the peer review privilege, which keeps reports and records of medical peer review committees confidential.

. . .

Wollman’s attorney, Reuben A. Guttman of Washington, D.C., hailed the decision as an important ruling under the False Claims Act and said it was consistent with black-letter law.

“The case cries out for transparency,” Guttman added. “It is about cheating the government through the gross compromise of patient relationships and critical health care standards.”

Source: Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Read full article here.

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Geissler v. Sterling

District of South Carolina.

GBB lawyers contributed to this class action lawsuit, filed against the Department of Correction, alleging that South Carolina prisoners recieved inadequate testing and treatment for hepatitis C (HCV). The complaint accuses DOC director Bryan Sterling of “deliberate indifference” by neglecting to implement regular testing and effective treatment protocols, because it would have incurred a significant cost to the DOC budget. The original plaintiffs, three inmates in SC state prison, argued that the DOC had violated their 8th Amendment Rights by failing to provide proper treatment. Further, the South Carolina DOC written policy states that HCV is not tested for “except under limited circumstances,” which runs contrary to CDC guidelines.

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Santee Christian College to Pay $225,000 Over Federal Violations on Recruiting

San Diego Christian College in Santee will pay $225,000 to resolve allegations that it compensated a student recruiting company in violation of a federal ban on incentive-based compensation, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The university’s settlement resolves allegations that it hired student recruiting company Joined Inc. between 2014 and 2016 to recruit prospective students to SDCC and paid the company a share of the tuition SDCC received from enrolled, recruited students.

Title IV of the Higher Education Act prohibits institutions receiving federal student aid from compensating student recruiters with a commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based on the recruiters’ success in securing student enrollment, according to the Department of Justice.

“Higher education enrollment decisions should put students first,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Offering recruiters financial incentives to enroll students undermines students’ ability to make educational decisions in their own best interests.”

The settlement stems from a lawsuit brought by an unnamed whistleblower, who will receive $33,750 of the settlement proceeds, according to the DOJ.

In a statement, a college spokesman said Tuesday: “Due to the anticipated costs of prolonged litigation as well as the distraction from the pursuit of its mission, SDCC’s Board of Trustees decided that it is in its best interest to come to this resolution. In addition to denying the allegations of the complaint, SDCC assures its students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders, and the public that at no time did it submit a “false claim” to the government nor misuse federal taxpayer funds. This settlement concludes the government investigation into SDCC’s relationship with [Maurice] Shoe,”  co-owner of Joined Inc., a California-based student recruiting company.

Reuben Guttman, who represents the whistleblower, told Times of San Diego that his client
lives on the West Coast.

“The case named three defendants: Oral Roberts, North Greenville University and San Diego Christian,” Guttman said. “This marks the third settlement, and approximately $3 million has been recovered.”

He said the settlement with San Diego Christian was small because it reflects the school’s financial condition and ability to pay.

“The settlement is being paid in installments,” Guttman said.

Neil Sanchez is special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southern Regional Office.

“Today’s settlement is a result of the hard work and effort of the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice to protect and maintain the integrity of the Federal student aid programs,” Sanchez said. “We will continue to work together to ensure that Federal student aid funds are used as required by law. America’s taxpayers and students deserve nothing less.”

Source: The Time of San Diego, https://timesofsandiego.com/education/2020/10/19/santee-christian-college-to-pay-225000-over-federal-violations-on-recruiting/

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