Pharmacy, Lab Near Settlements for Kickback Cases

PharMerica and Health Diagnostic Laboratory are on the verge of settling cases alleging improper kickbacks under the False Claims Act, according to media reports.

Kickbacks by health care companies have been a key area of lawsuits under the False Claims Act for some time. Last year, the Department of Justice recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits alleging violations of either the Anti-Kickback Statute or the Stark Law. Omnicare, Amedisys, and Halifax Hospital Medical Center all settled cases involving alleged violations of one or both of these laws.

The PharMerica settlement agreements were disclosed in court filings in December, according to a WCPO Cincinnati article. We have not seen an announcement concerning the amount of the settlements and the article indicates that they are not final.

Of the two cases against PharMerica, only one involves kickbacks. In the kickback lawsuit in Virginia, the company is accused of accepting kickbacks from Abbott Labs for promoting Depakote, an anti-seizure drug, to treat agitation and aggression in dementia patients located in nursing homes receiving non-Abbott pharmaceuticals. In the Wisconsin case against PharMerica, the company is accused of violating the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act. It allegedly allowed nursing home patients to get Schedule II drugs without a doctor’s approval.

HDL was accused of paying doctors to send their patients’ blood to the lab for testing. The reported amount is nearly $50 million according to the Wall Street Journal article disclosing the tentative deal. The agreement allows HDL to deny wrongdoing but enter into a corporate integrity agreement for five years.

According to the Wall Street Journal, HDL paid out $20 per blood sample to physician practices. In total, it sent more then $17 million to doctor’s offices in 2013. The article says that cardiac biomarker labs, its competitors, were also paying doctors and are under investigation by the Department of Justice.

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