In 2010, qui tam whistleblower David Kester alleged that Novartis AG, a European pharmaceutical company, offered illegal kickbacks in an effort to increase sales of its transplant drug Myfortic. Just one week before the trial was expected to begin, the pharmaceutical giant agreed to settle a False Claims Act (FCA) to the tune of $390 million.
A whistleblower is an individual who reports information about illegal activity in any public or private organization. The qui tam provisions allow individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government, with the main goal being to recover funds that were fraudulently taken. In addition to recovering funds, reporting this type of information may protect public safety and well-being, and it can be very lucrative for the whistleblower. Contact a Boston Whistleblower Lawyer.
Novartis Paid Illegal Kickbacks to Pharmacies in Exchange for Pushing Certain Drugs
The drug at front and center of Novartis’ illegal kickbacks, myfortic, is an immunosuppresant medication that reduces the risk of organ rejection in transplant patients. The rate of organ transplants has grown significantly over the last few years, and with it the demand for this type of treatment. The demand has also resulted in stiff market competition. In fact, it may have been Novartis AG’s concerns about close competitor Roche that led to their deceptive – and illegal – practices. In order to boost myfortic sales, Novartis offered certain incentives to pharmacies for pushing the drug. How did they do this? Basically, when a pharmacy sold myfortic, that pharmacy received money from Novartis for doing so. Then Novartis billed Medicare, Medicaid, and various other health care programs, to receive reimbursement for its costs. These practices are in direct violation of the False Claims Act’s Anti-Kickback Statute. In addition, since Medicare and Medicaid are government programs, the laws also apply to foreign companies. It is considered healthcare fraud to submit a false claim to any federal health care program.
Whistleblowers May Receive Up to 30% of Total Settlement
The qui tam whistleblower provision was created specifically to prevent acts of fraud against the government, and it has become exceptionally effective. For starters, whistleblower incentives can be quite lucrative. Any individual who has unique information on a person or company that has committed acts of fraud against the federal government can be handsomely rewarded for reporting that information. In fact, the whistleblower may receive up to 30% of the total settlement. Considering that these settlements can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s no pocket change. To illustrate just how motivating the whistleblower act can be, the former Novartis employee who blew the whistle on illegal kickbacks will receive his fair share of a $390 million settlement.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Greater Boston Whistleblower Attorneys
If you have information about fraudulent acts against the federal government, we can help you determine how to move forward. It can be overwhelming, and even intimidating, to be privy to such sensitive information. You probably know that reporting your findings is the right thing to do, but you may fear backlash or repercussions. That is only natural. However, at Altman & Altman, LLP, the information you share with us is entirely confidential. We can discuss your rights and options and help you understand exactly what is on the table. If a whistleblower asks to be kept anonymous, that request will be honored. Only in very rare circumstances, when disclosing the informant’s identity would be in the best interest of the public, will that information be shared. If you have questions, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.