Jury orders drug company to pay $170 million in Medicaid fraud case.

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.

The verdict stemmed from a sealed whistle-blower lawsuit — filed in 2000 by a pharmacy, that accused a number of drug-makers of reporting inflated drug prices to the Medicaid program. They joined the lawsuit in 2000 and reached settlements with 11 companies, settling for more than $139 million. In 2008, the state increased pressure on the drug companies and three other drug-makers — and began to discuss settlements or possible trials.

If you suspect fraud that may affect your right call me at 1-800-320-0080 or call for an appointment at my offices located in Rockville or Baltimore for an initial free consultation.