According to a recent report from Wolters Kluwer, the U.S. Department of Justice recovered $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments last year in civil cases involving fraud against the government – bringing the total amount the agency has recovered since 2009 to $19 billion.
The largest portion of the 2013 recoveries came from health care-related fraud particularly Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and many cases included claims that pharmaceutical manufacturers engaged in “off-label marketing” to improperly promote unapproved drugs, distributed adulterated drugs, or engaged in illegal kickback schemes.
The False Claims Act allows private citizens to act as whistleblowers and file lawsuits on behalf of the government. These cases, known as qui tam actions, offer whistleblowers strong incentives – if the government prevails, the whistleblower may be entitled to up to 30% of the recovery. In 2013, $2.9 billion of the $3.8 billion recovered resulted from qui tam and federal False Claim actions, with whistleblowers receiving $345 million.
The government also obtained 16 criminal convictions and more than $1.3 billion in criminal fines, forfeitures, and disgorgement under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a law intended to protect the health and safety of individuals by ensuring that drugs are safe, effective, and accurately labeled for their intended uses.
If you work in an area susceptible to fraud against the government and have concerns about questionable or possibly illegal practices, the attorneys at Sommers Schwartz are here to help – give us a call.