Washington, DC. – October 1, 2007. Several whistleblowers provided confidential information to the United States Department of Justice which resulted in a $515 million taxpayer recovery against the drug company Bristol Myers to settle health care fraud allegations. The settlement was announced by the Department of Justice and Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler on Friday, September 28, 2007. The drug company paid the federal government over $328 million in civil fraud damages and penalties, and paid various state governments over $187 million, plus interest, to settle seven whistleblower lawsuits.
The settlement arose from allegations concerning the illegal marketing of more than 45 drugs made or marketed by Bristol Myers, including Tequin, Pravachol, Glucovance, Avapro, Plavix Abilify, Monopril, Metaglip, Taxol and Coumadin. These wide-spread practices by Bristol Myers were alleged to have increased Medicare and Medicaid costs, all of which is paid by the taxpayers. Employee whistleblowers now account for the majority of all civil fraud recoveries obtained by the United States.
For example, between 2000-2006, the Department of Justice recovered $12 billion in civil fraud recoveries ($12,093,022,897). Whistleblowers were responsible for $7 billion ($7,972,051,660) worth of these recoveries, or 65.9%. Attorney David K. Colapinto, who represented one of the Bristol Myers whistleblowers, said:
“The employee whistleblowers who reported massive health care fraud by Bristol Myers risked everything to help the government uncover the details of the complex web of fraudulent schemes that were allegedly used to rip-off patients and the taxpayers. These acts of courage led to the recovery of more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer money under the settlement.”
“This settlement demonstrates the effectiveness of the whistleblower (or qui tam) provisions of the False Claims Act.”
“Without the assistance of these whistleblowers it is unlikely that the government would have discovered the entire fraud or obtained as large a recovery for the American people.”
National Whistleblowers Center President, Stephen M. Kohn, added the following:
“Whistleblowers save the taxpayers billions of dollars every year. They are the true heroes in fraud recovery cases. Laws which encourage and reward whistleblowers must be expanded, so every crooked contractor is held to the same standard as Bristol Myers.”