Omnicare Inc. has agreed to pay the federal government $4.9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the Ohio-based company was involved in a kickback scheme in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). It was alleged that Omnicare solicited and received kickbacks, such as performance-based rebates, grants, speaker fees, and dinners and travel, in exchange for the implementation of “therapeutic interchange” programs created to get Medicaid beneficiaries to use Amgen Inc.’s product Aranesp.
”Kickbacks are designed to influence decisions by health care providers, such as which drugs to prescribe,” stated Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “Americans who rely on federal health care programs, particularly vulnerable patients in skilled nursing facilities, are entitled to feel confident that decisions about their medical care are not tainted by improper financial arrangements.”
Apart from the current settlement, Omnicare has faced other allegations that it violated the Anti-Kickback Prohibition under the FCA. As we previously reported, the company entered into a $120 million settlement in October, 2013, and a $98 million settlement in 2009, resulting from alleged kickback schemes. The U.S. Supreme Court has also announced that it will review Omnicare’s challenge to allegations the company engaged in securities fraud by submitting false claims to Medicaid and Medicare, and hiding kickbacks it paid and received from pharmaceutical companies, reported the Wall Street Journal.
“Kickbacks corrode our federal health care programs,” stated Office of Inspector General Special Agent Derrick L. Jackson. “OIG is committed to unveiling these illegal reciprocal relationships, and companies making or receiving such payments can expect serious consequences,” he said. To date, the DOJ and HHS have recovered over $19 billion from FCA cases, $13.4 billion of which, involved cases of fraud against federal health care programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s news release, the relator that brought the qui tam action will receive nearly $400,000. “The District of South Carolina has devoted significant resources over the last three years to pursuing claims under the False Claims Act, and this settlement is the latest example of this office’s successful efforts,” stated U.S. Attorney William nettles. “I am very proud of the work this office has done in this area.”