–Sanofi-Aventis must pay back millions of dollars in a False Claims Act case brought forward by a whistleblower–
WASHINGTON, D.C. AND AUSTIN, TX (February 28, 2020) – Today, the nationally recognized attorneys from Slack Davis Sanger, LLP obtained an $11,850,000 settlement in a case against pharmaceutical marketing company, Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC. The company markets drugs, including Lemtrada, a treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In this case, a whistleblower came forward with information alleging that Sanofi was paying kickbacks to physicians and patients. The scheme was allegedly perpetrated by making the cost of Lemtrada extremely high. One course of treatment costs about $100,000 making the Medicare Part B co-pay about $20,000.
According to the suit, Sanofi used a third-party group to identify Medicare patients who were prescribed Lemtrada and refer them to apply for patience assistance through The Assistance Fund, an entity claiming 501 (c)(3) status for operating a fund for MS patients.
Sanofi allegedly made payments to The Assistance Fund, not with a charitable purpose, but to use the fund as a way to encourage Medicare patients to purchase Lemtrada. The fund would cover the patient’s Medicare co-pay in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, and then Sanofi would bill Medicare for the rest of the unnecessarily costly treatment.
“The result in this case sends a strong deterrence message against fraudulently driving up government program spending and illegally steering those taxpayer dollars to corporate profit ledgers,” said John R. Davis of Slack Davis Sanger. “The case is also a reminder of the important role that whistleblowers play in policing government programs; when civic-minded individuals come forward with credible evidence of fraud, everyone benefits except the wrongdoer,” Davis added.
The federal government operates using taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, criminals and fraudsters see the massive government budget as a means to line their own pockets. Drug companies create Patient Assistance Programs or Co-Pay Charities to entice patients to use expensive, name brand drugs by covering co-pay costs. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal for these groups to pay the co-pays of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but many drug makers use them to maximize their profits by scamming money from the government.
Whistleblowers are crucial in identifying these fraudulent charities and stopping these schemes against the government. When whistleblowers come forward with evidence of this fraud, they can receive a portion of the recovery.
For more information about becoming a whistleblower, please visit www.slackdavis.com.