Connecticut-based Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. will pay $95 million to resolve allegations by the Justice Department that the company engaged in the improper promotion of certain medications: Aggrenox, Atrovent, Combivent, and Micardis. The False Claims Act lawsuit against Boehringer was originally filed by a whistleblower, a former Boehringer sales representative. As part of the settlement, the whistleblower will receive more than $17 million.
While all of these drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they have been approved solely for specific uses. Aggrenox has been approved to prevent secondary strokes. Combivent was approved by the FDA to treat ongoing symptoms of bronchospasm in patients who suffer COPD and are already on a bronchodilator. Micardis is approved for the treatment of hypertension.
Whistleblower Revealed that Drug Maker Violated False Claims Act
The Boehringer settlement resolves allegations that the company improperly marketed these drugs, promoting them for needs that were not medically accepted and not covered by the federal government’s healthcare programs. The drug manufacturer thus caused false claims to be made against the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
The allegations against Boehreinger were that the drug maker promoted Aggrenox for myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular events; that it marketed Combivent for use in treating COPD before using another bronchodilator; and that it marketed Micardis for the treatment of early diabetic kidney disease. Boehringer was accused of promoting the use of Atrovent and Combivent at doses exceeding those covered by federal healthcare programs. Boehringer also allegedly made knowing unsubstantiated claims about Aggrenox’s efficacy and paying kickbacks to doctors to influence them to prescribe Aggrenox, Combivent, Atrovent, and Micardis.
The $95 million settlement will be divided between the federal government, which will receive $78,455,048, and state Medicaid programs, which will receive $16,544,952. The settlement also requires that Boehringer enter into a broad Corporate Integrity Agreement that establishes procedures and reviews intended to promptly detect and avoid similar misconduct.
Whistleblowers Can Stop Medicaid and Medicare Fraud
Like the sales representative in this case, whistleblowers can help battle Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Their help is important to the government’s efforts to eliminate fraud, and so the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow individual whistleblowers to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government and to receive part of any settlement. In this case, the whistleblower’s award is substantial—over $17 million.
Whistleblowers need to understand their legal rights under the False Claims Act. Waters & Kraus’ qui tam attorneys can walk you through this process. Send us an email or call our whistleblower lawyers at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our practice and how we can assist.