The Department of Justice just settlement a massive qui tam lawsuit against one cancer drug company repackaged oncology drugs that were non-sterile and contaminated with bacteria and other particles.

Under the False Claims Act, also called Lincoln’s Law, a whistleblower can bring a claim against an employer defrauding the government by overbilling or through some other mechanism. Qui tam is an element of these kinds of actions where a third party can sue a government contractor on behalf of the federal government.

That third party sues that company as if it were the federal government. Often times, once the company lands solid allegations, the Department of Justice will take over the litigation. Whistleblowers from within the company generally come forward as “relators” for the lawsuit. These individuals receive between 15-25 percent of the recovery.

The scheme here allegedly involved the massive company AmerisourceBergen Corporation and its subsidiaries, AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group (ABSG), AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation (ABDC), Oncology Supply Company (OSC), and Medical Initiatives Inc (MII) (collectively, “ABC”). The government will recover over $600 million in civil damages, meaning the whistleblower may be entitled to over $90 million.

Not bad for blowing the whistle, right? The law allows for high rewards to encourage whistleblowers to come forward since such individuals will likely no longer be able to find work after outing their fraudulent employer.

Imagine if our government approved qui tam for VA employees outing agency bad actors? VA would get fixed up quick, to say the least.

According to MDLinx, ABC overbilled Medicare, TRICARE, and the Department of Veterans Affairs by repackaging discount drugs and billing multiple times for the same product. The company also allegedly induced physicians with kickbacks.

“The $885 million combined civil and criminal resolution with ABC underscores our determination to utilize all tools at our disposal to pursue illicit schemes that seek to profit from circumvention of important safeguards designed to protect the nation’s drug supply,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will continue to be particularly vigilant where these schemes put the health and safety of vulnerable patients at risk.”

“ABC placed corporate profits over patients’ needs, endangering the health of vulnerable cancer patients,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This settlement, and the substantial penalty ABC has agreed to pay, reflect this Office’s firm commitment to protecting those in need of health care and holding to account those who put the health and safety of patients at risk.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his appreciation to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units for their assistance.

“Drug companies, such as ABC, that seek to boost profits at the expense of cancer patients unnecessarily put the health and safety of this vulnerable population at risk,” stated HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Lampert.  “Greed must never be a part of medical decision-making. HHS-OIG, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting patient quality of care, and this settlement should serve as a warning to drug companies that are tempted to shortchange patient well-being.”

Source: https://www.mdlinx.com/oncology/washington-report/2018/10/02/7545731

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11 COMMENTS

  1. You wrote:

    “Imagine if our government approved qui tam for VA employees outing agency bad actors? VA would get fixed up quick, to say the least.”

    They do and I did it. There was a case law finding that government employees can do qui tam as long as they reported the problem to their superiors and the superiors didn’t do anything about it. When Idid I thought I would be a hero. It ruined my career/life and it didn’t fix things it made it worse. Only in the VA. The DOJ didn’t want to work the case because the VA OIG got involved and they said they would fix it. The lawyer I got didn’t wan’t to pursue it without another witness or more evidence. I couldn’t recruit anyone else because they were scared and by that time the management locked me out of al the IT systems. I did turn everything I took over to the VA OIG (total joke) and Congressional Investigators. There was a lot of money involved but I gave up. Just wanted to put it behind me and move on.

    I never understood with your legal knowledge why you didn’t try to get into this. There is tons of opportunity in VA contracting and purchasing where this goes on, A LOT! I think I may have tried to contact you actually. I was in your neck of the woods at that time. I think you may have told me you just did the TBI thing and to find another attorney.

    Be well.

    • Re: 1998 Cox Report

      There are very few people who would dive into a pool of sharks and alligators at one time, with paranas too.

      Don’t beat up a lawyer for being in law and who is sitting on the diving board.

      It is not something most people would want to do for a living.

      Even if you had more evidence and witnesses your attorney would have bailed and left the state for safety [like ours did back in 1980s].

      In the courtroom the Judge can change the transcripts with all the attorneys scratching their heads [Torrance, CA].

      Your IT program has been touched by SERCO through Lockheed—what more is there to be explained? Lockheed had and has bad habits. But not as bad as Serco.

      “I did turn everything I took over to the VA OIG (total joke) and Congressional Investigators. There was a lot of money involved but I gave up. Just wanted to put it behind me and move on.”

      I remember Pat Maio of the Daily Breeze [Copley News Service] sent us to the “congressional investigative committee”—that is when the dead bodies started to show up in mid 1988. And the LA [Carson] Sheriffs were getting nervous as Congressman Anderson’s office stalled the efforts using Schlessinger out of Washington DC.

      So I went to the Senators —-Keating Five
      Then on to the Presidents—Reagan, Bush
      Then on to World Organizations and other World Leaders

      It’s amazing how the fax machine works these days.

      Do not give up the Fight—because they do not!!!

      Don

  2. The issue with Qui Tam – especially if it involves government contractors with connections – is that DOJ will drag its feet to bring the case to the courts. Meanwhile the whistleblower is harassed, retaliated against, terminated and even has threats made/done against the whistleblower and his/her family.

    CBS’ “Whistleblower” series that came out a few months ago, unfortunately, shows how Qui Tam isn’t as fast and efficient as it may appear (on its face).

    Also, the other thing I don’t like about Qui Tam is the violators can simply settle the suit and go unpunished. Some of them even get another contract with the government and the people involved in the violations remain fully employed – while the whistleblower was dragged through hell.

    While a whistleblower possibly obtaining a great chunk of money from a case or settlement is nice, what is the point of a Qui Tam if the violators can go back to doing more violations???

  3. A half billion plus in settlement, and no one goes to jail. The more money at stake, the less likely criminals will do time. Gets me all flag wavy n’shit.

  4. Marine veteran battles with Veterans Affairs over needed surgery
    A veteran Marine finds himself in a fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    Author: Kenneth Amaro
    Published: 5:33 PM EDT September 17, 2018

    “JACKSONVILLE, Fl — Stephen Burcham, 70, fought in Vietnam as part of the U.S. Marine Corps and returned home to fight for his dignity after being stigmatized by a community that was opposed to the conflict.

    Now the veteran finds himself in a fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Burcham said it began in June when he had to call a Fire and Rescue ambulance.

    “I thought I was having a heart attack,” he said.

    What he was having turned out to be gastrointestinal issues. His hospital visit would reveal gall problems and a hernia in his lower abdominal area.

    Burcham said the doctor told him he needs surgery, which requires authorization from the VA.

    “I’d like an operation so I can to get this taken care,” said Burcham,” so I won’t be in pain all the time.”

    Burcham said, after the war, he became a trucker and always had private health insurance, but in 2010 after he was diagnosed with possible effects of Agent Orange, he began using VA for his health care.

    He said his early experience was satisfactory, but now he holds a different opinion.

    “The VA system is not working, it is getting worse,’ he said.

    The Marine said he has been waiting for approval for his surgery since June. He said Friday Sept. 14, the VA stretched his patience.

    “They called me up and said it would be another eight weeks for written approval,” he said.

    Why the delay? Why another two months before the operation is approved? The more he thought about it, the angrier he became.

    “I’m upset about it,” said Burcham, “I called the doctor and talked to the nurses and they said you need to call your legislature, your congressman.”

    Burcham is enrolled in VA Choice. The program allows veterans who meet the criteria to get their health care in the private sector.”

    Full Article At: https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/local/marine-veteran-battles-with-veterans-affairs-over-needed-surgery/77-595551328

  5. 10/03/2018

    Re: AmerisourceBergen Corporation and its subsidiaries, AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group (ABSG), AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation (ABDC), Oncology Supply Company (OSC), and Medical Initiatives Inc (MII) (collectively, “ABC”)

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    American Greed must run an episode on this corporation.

    Profiteering during Wartime is a separate crime that is not being talked about.

    The number of companies involved is eye opening.

    “The federal and state civil settlements resolve allegations that Medical Initiatives, Inc. (“MII”), a purported pharmacy ABSG opened in Dothan, Alabama, caused numerous false claims to be submitted to Medicaid for unapproved new drugs and defective, contaminated, or otherwise compromised drugs, and double billing for the same vial of drug product.”

    “During the 13 years the PFS Program was in operation, MII manufactured thousands of syringes daily, and eventually over one million syringes per year.”

    Steven H. Collis
    Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
    [had] Two Options—either he was told to do this and buckled under or he was a real cheap bastard.

    “He is currently a director of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers.”

    “Mr. Collis has demonstrated strategic vision, strong creativity and entrepreneurial and leadership skills…”

    Obviously, this was no management mistake.

    So what is it?

    Now the fading question no one has raised: How many Americans [Veterans included] had died and or harmed by this practice? Judging by the number of syringes sold 13 million Americans.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

    Ps:
    “COLLIS STEVEN H, Chairman, President & CEO, sold 21,350 shares of the AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC) in an exchange that happened on October 1st, 2018. The stock was sold at an average price of $93.09 per share, amounting to a transaction worth $1,987,472. ”

    “New York State will not tolerate the unscrupulous practices of those who represent themselves as pharmacies, when in fact they are not, no matter where they may be located, that introduce adulterated drugs in our state.”

    I hope the AG is talking to the SEC and thinking about a RICO.

    If they are not “a Pharmacy” what are they?

  6. Watch, because an employee found this problem, the funds recovered will go into the employee bonus fund. (This would not surprise me at all- once they uncovered they actually did it-like five years from now)….

  7. Another VA woops moment that kills another Veteran and the VAOIG gives a woops style investigation to clear the VA of any wrong doing.

    _______________

    ______

    Quality of Care Concerns Regarding a Patient Who had Cardiac Surgery at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Michigan
    VAOIG Report Number: 17-04875-308
    Issue Date: 9/27/2018
    City/State: Ann Arbor, MI

    “The OIG was unable to substantiate that the patient received inappropriate care during cardiac surgery that ultimately led to death. A cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) catheter that was inserted to divert blood flow from the heart became misplaced. The patient did not receive adequate blood flow to the brain during surgery and died six days later. The OIG was unable to determine how or when the CPB catheter became misplaced.

    Review of the electronic health record and interviews determined the placement of the catheter, initiation of CPB, and maintenance of CPB during most of the surgery appeared unremarkable. Misplacement of the CPB catheter was discovered towards the end of the procedure, when attempting to restore normal blood flow through the heart.

    In response to one of the three allegations, the OIG confirmed that the anesthesiologist was present for the critical points of the procedure and did not abandon the patient during surgery.”

    Full Report At: https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-17-04875-308.pdf

    _______________________

  8. Here is one of the VAOIG Reports you just feel are stupid. The VAOIG blames lack of Veteran input as the reason the VA is still breaking the law in Los Angles.

    ____________________

    ______

    Title: VA’s Management of Land Use Under the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016
    Report Number: 18-00474-300 Download
    Report
    Issue Date: 9/28/2018
    City/State: Los Angeles, CA

    “The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit to determine VA’s compliance with the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016 (Act). This Act requires that all real property leases and land sharing agreements involving the West Los Angeles (WLA) campus—part of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLAHS) in California—principally benefit veterans and their families. Specifically, the OIG assessed whether such leases and other land use agreements were used for purposes allowed under the Act, comply with other federal laws, are veteran-focused and consistent with VA’s objective to revitalize its WLA campus, and were managed effectively.

    The OIG reviewed 40 land use agreements and determined that 11 did not comply with the WLA Leasing Act, other applicable federal laws, or the Draft Master Plan (DMP). Also, 14 non-VA entities were operating on campus with either an expired or no documented agreement. The OIG determined these noncompliant arrangements resulted from insufficient veteran input on land use, unclear VA policies on what constituted appropriate use of “out leases” and revocable licenses, and incomplete capital asset inventory land use agreement records maintained by GLAHS.”

    Full Report At: https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-18-00474-300.pdf

    ______________

    ______________

    “The OIG determined these noncompliant arrangements resulted from insufficient veteran input on land use”

    Just how fucked in the head are investigators at the VAOIG?

    • Yep, just read about this from Judicial Watch. The whole sheebang up there are touched in the head and corrupt.

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