For nearly two decades, the Justice Department has wielded the False Claims Act to recover billions of dollars from pharmaceutical manufacturers that allegedly paid kickbacks to prescribers. These sizeable recoveries have become so commonplace that the media barely gives notice to the settlements unless there is a celebrity connection to the case.
Some would argue that pharmaceutical companies now accept FCA payouts as the cost of doing business. This point was made in a recent New York Times article: This appears to be the business plan,” said Eric G. Campbell, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who studies conflicts of interest between doctors and the drug industry. “It appears to be, you do whatever you have to do, and you know that eventually you will pay fines, but you will pay the fines and still make a lot more.”
To win in the battle against illegal kickbacks, the government should embrace a two-front war that focuses on the recipients of the kickbacks, as well as the payor of it. For too long, dishonest physicians have been given a pass when it comes to kickback schemes. This enforcement practice needs to stop if the Justice Department is serious about clamping down on these pay-to-prescribe fraud schemes. Simply put, if you punish the outlier doctors who are accepting the clear bribes, it will deter others from reaching out for kickback dollars.
More information for whistleblowers is located at the Nolan Auerbach & White website.