Articles Posted in whistleblower

In what state officials describe as a record-setting verdict, a jury found that a global drug manufacturer misrepresented prices to the state’s Medicaid program and said the company should pay the state and federal government $170.3 million. The verdict concluded a nearly three-week trial in state district court, where lawyers for the attorney general’s office argued that the drug company artificially inflated the costs of medications to obtain more money. Medicaid reimbursed pharmacies at higher rates because of the falsely reported prices, officials said.

The trial reportedly was the first of its kind in the state; similar cases in recent years have settled out of court. The attorney said in a statement that the case makes clear his office will hold accountable those who defraud the Medicaid program, a joint federal and state effort to provide health coverage to needy Americans. “Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that are at stake, we will continue to vigilantly pursue providers that falsely report prices to defraud the taxpayers,” he said.

Drug company officials said in a statement that they are disappointed by the verdict and are exploring legal and appeal options. “We remain, as always, committed to offering high-quality, lower-cost alternatives for health consumers, including the millions of Americans who participate in the Medicaid program,” said the company’s vice president and chief legal officer.

A major pharmaceutical company has entered into settlement agreements worth more than $21 million from charges that the firm overcharged Medicaid programs of Michigan and Massachusetts. The settlement by the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly stems from a whistleblower lawsuit filed in federal court in 2003 by a former financial analyst. The pharmaceutical company was accused of not following “usual and customary” pricing regulations when charging Medicaid for prescription drugs supplied to residents of skilled-nursing facilities in the two states. In one instance, the whistleblower complaint alleged that in 2001 the pharmaceutical company was paid by private insurers an average of $27.75 per prescription, while its payments for Medicaid patients averaged $47.15 per prescription, according to a Washington-based whistleblower law firm that represented the former financial analyst. Under the settlement announced Tuesday, the pharmaceutical company will pay $9.45 million to Massachusetts and $11.6 million to Michigan. The settlement also requires the company to comply with pricing regulations, which include billing the lowest price the company charges a private third-party customer for the same drug. The pharmaceutical company denied any wrongdoing and cooperated during the investigation, according to a release from the Attorney General’s office.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that the settlement agreement with Michigan and Massachusetts includes a provision to dismiss claims against the company included in another whistleblower lawsuit that is pending in Illinois related to the same charges. In recent years, legal troubles have cost the pharmaceutical company millions. Among other settlements, they paid $98 million last November to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that charged the company accepted kickbacks from a drug giant corporation.They admitted no guilt in the case. As part of that settlement, five whistleblower lawsuits were dismissed. If you suspect any fraud by a company or an insurance company call me at my offices located in Rockville or Baltimore at 1-800-320-0080 for a free consultation.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) and the Florida Justice Institute (FJI) today announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County Sheriff. According to the ACLU and the FJI, the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Sheriff’s new postcard-only policy for jail inmate mail, which was established on July 26 of this year. This new policy severely restricts the free speech rights of inmates and their friends and family to communicate with each other. The ACLU and FJI are asking the court to order Santa Rosa County Sheriff to cease the unconstitutional practice of restricting jail inmates’ ability to communicate with family and friends by limiting their mail to short, publicly viewable messages on postcards. “Writing and sharing thoughts and artwork with loved ones is one of the most important things to help keep inmates connected to their loved ones and express their reflections while incarcerated,” said ACLU staff attorney. “Under the postcard-only policy Martin Luther King Jr. could not have sent the letter he sent from the Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963, to his fellow clergymen. This postcard-only policy punishes inmates as well as their friends and family who reside outside the jail and have not been accused of any crime.” The sheriff does not see where this policy has violated the rights of any inmates at the jail he oversees. “Our inmates enjoy all privileges and rights as dictated by law, both state and federal. It is my understanding that the ACLU’s issue has been presented before the Federal courts several times and each time the courts have ruled in favor of this practice,” He said. “We will not, nor have we ever, interfered with an inmate’s right to communicate per statutory requirement. “This practice was initiated based on two factors: the cost to the taxpayers and the security of the facility.” The lawsuit questions and challenges the policy to their right of communication. Inmates may also communicate with family via collect calls or during visitation, which is one two-hour period per week. The ACLU and FJI question the fairness due to the expense of collect calls and if a loved one is working during visitation their opportunity would be missed. Both parties to the suit against all also challenge the lack of privacy as they feel telephone and in-person conversations are easily overheard by fellow inmates, guards and other visitors, leaving closed letter correspondence as the only confidential way to communicate with family and other loved ones. “Simply because a family member is in jail doesn’t mean he ceases to be part of the family,” said the Executive Director, Florida Justice Institute. “Yet, this postcard-only policy forces them to write everything in abbreviated form, which can be read by anyone, or write nothing at all. Inmates and their families and friends need to be able to discuss issues of health and finances and exchange words of encouragement in a complete and private way. Postcards simply do not allow that. “Inmates in these situations will be effectively silenced by the Sheriff’s new policy, or risk airing personal or confidential information to others and potentially put themselves in harm’s way.” The attorney also took to task the allegation this post card only policy is saving the jail money. “Allegations that this will save the jail a lot of money miss the mark. If the government believes that it must detain a person, then it must do so responsibly the attorney said. “While it costs over $50 a day to house each inmate, switching to two meals a day or turning off the A/C are simply not options. Depriving inmates and their friends and families of their ability to effectively communicate and continue relationships is not an option either. The cost argument is a red herring to draw attention away from the real matter, which is censoring speech. “A better way to save money would be to require arrestees who present no danger to the public and are not likely to flee to show up for a hearing rather than house them in the jail at the taxpayers’ expense.” The class action lawsuit represents a fluid population of approximately 500 people who are inmates at any one time in the Santa Rosa County jail.

If you or any relative has been subjected to State misconduct or you have been denied a claim or your civil rights call me at my offices located in Rockville or Baltimore at 1-800-320–0080 for a free consultation.