Closing out a record year for False Claims Act recoveries, pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi has agreed to pay $109 million to resolve allegations that it paid illegal kickbacks to health care providers. Specifically, it was alleged that Sanofi violated the federal Anti-kickback Statute by regularly giving physicians free units of its knee injection product Hyalgan to induce them to purchase and use its products. Sanofi’s alleged kickback schemes were revealed to the federal government by a former Sanofi sales representative, who had brought an action under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. His reward was over $18.5 million.
According to the whistleblower, Sanofi armed its sales force with thousands of free “sample” Hyalgan units and trained its sales reps to market the “value add” of these free units to physicians. This scheme was allegedly hatched as Sanofi was facing mounting pressure from a lower-priced competitor. Thus, by readily providing prescribers with a free supply of Hyalgan samples, the sales reps argued to providers that Hyalgan had an effectively lower price than its competitor.
Moreover, because Sanofi allegedly failed to account for the free Halogen samples in its requisite Average Sales Price (ASP) reports, the company made false ASP reports, causing Medicare to pay inflated amounts for Hyalgan.
More information for whistleblowers is located at the Nolan Auerbach website.