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FIRST PERSON: Don’t Muzzle the Whistleblowers

RIPPING OFF THE U.S. government has reached epidemic proportions. The Department of Justice estimates that fraud costs the Medicare system alone between $30-$60 billion annually. But instead of fines and jail time, fraudsters are frequently rewarded with more government business. And if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies have their way, these fraudsters will gain enhanced legal protection. The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a critical case testing the right of citizens to bring suit in the name of the United States in order to recover damages from corporations or individuals that have cheated the government. By taking up the case known as Schindler Elevator, the high court is looking into whether a private citizen can secure information from a Freedom of Information Act request and use that information to form the basis of a qui tam or False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit…

Read the complete article here: https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/almID/1202489937878/

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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.

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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.

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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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