Abbott Laboratories Pays U.S. $5.475 Million to Settle Claims That Company Paid Kickbacks to Physicians

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Abbott Laboratories has

agreed

to

pay

the

United

States $5.475

million

to

resolve

allegations

that

it

violated

the

False

Claims

Act

by paying kickbacks to induce doctors to implant the company’s carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products, the Justice Department announced today.  Abbott is a global pharmaceuticals and health care products company based in Abbott Park, Ill.

 

“Patients have a right to treatment decisions that are based on their own medical needs, not the personal financial interests of their health care providers,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.  “Kickbacks undermine the ability of health care providers to objectively evaluate and treat their patients, and will continue to be a primary focus of the Department’s health care enforcement efforts.”  

 

The settlement resolves allegations that Abbott knowingly paid prominent physicians for teaching assignments, speaking engagements and conferences with the expectation that these physicians would arrange for the hospitals with which they were affiliated to purchase Abbott’s carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products.  As a result, the

United

States

alleged

Abbott violated the Anti-Kickback Act and caused

the submission of false claims to

Medicare

for the procedures in which these Abbott products were used.

 

“Physicians should make decisions regarding medical devices based on what is in the best interest of patients without being induced by payments from manufacturers competing for their business,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

 

“Offering financial inducements can distort health care decision-making,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta.  “OIG and our law enforcement partners vigilantly protect government health programs from such alleged abuses.”

 

Carotid and peripheral vascular products are used to treat circulatory disorders by increasing blood flow to the head and various parts of the body, respectively.  Biliary products are used to treat obstructions that occur in the bile ducts.

 

The

settlement

resolves

allegations originally brought in

a lawsuit filed by Steven Peters and Douglas Gray, former Abbott employees, under

the

qui tam provision

of

the

False

Claims

Act

, which allows whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery  

As

part

of

today’s

resolution,

Peters and Gray

will

receive

a total payment of

more

than

$1

million. 

 

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $17 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $12.2 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

 

This

settlement

was

the

result

of

an

investigation

by

the

Justice

Department’s

Civil

Division,

the

U.S.

Attorney’s

Offices

for

the

Eastern

District

of

Tennessee and

the

Northern

District

of

California

and the

Office

of

Inspector

General

at

the

U.S.

Department

of

Health

and

Human

Services.

 

The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Peters et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09-CV-430 (E.D. Tenn.).  

The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

News Source : Abbott Laboratories Pays U.S. $5.475 Million to Settle Claims That Company Paid Kickbacks to Physicians

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