Abbott Laboratories To Pay $5.475 Million Settlement For Violation Of False Claims Act

Friday, December 27, 2013

Abbott Laboratories, a global healthcare company, has agreed to pay $5.475 million to settle alleged violations of the False Claims Act, and other federal laws and regulations in connection with the operation of its medical device business which manufactures, markets and supplies carotid, biliary, and peripheral vascular products.

As alleged in the settlement agreement, between 2005 and 2010, through its employees and a third party continuing medical education providers, Abbott offered physicians paid teaching and training assignments, consulting arrangements, speaking engagements, and/or sponsorship grants for physician conferences, for the purpose of inducing physicians to arrange for or recommend that the hospitals with which they were affiliated purchase or order Abbott’s carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products.

These financial arrangements were improper and did not meet the requirements of the Anti-Kickback Statute – a law designed to protect patients as well as the integrity of government-funded health care benefit programs such as Medicare, it was stated.

Where the choice of devices used in medical procedures is impacted by such improper arrangements, suppliers that cause claims for such devices and procedures to be submitted to Medicare and other federal health care programs violate the False Claims Act, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said, “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.” Federal law prohibits medical providers from submitting claims to government-funded health care benefit programs for services and devices referred, ordered, or arranged for by physicians who received such prohibited financial inducements.

“Offering financial inducements can distort health care decision-making,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at 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.” During the period between 2005 and 2010 hospitals affiliated with the physicians who received such inducements submitted to the Medicare program claims which included the cost of the medical devices referred, ordered or arranged for by such physicians. Medicare paid the claims that included the cost of the medical devices. This settlement addresses the financial harm to the Medicare trust fund for the moneys paid out of the fund which resulted from violations of the False Claims Act resulting from the kickbacks, it was stated.

Mr. Killian further noted that this settlement resulted from a comprehensive investigation which began as a result of a qui tam or whistleblower complaint filed in 2010. The investigative team whose efforts resulted in this settlement was comprised of representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

U.S. Attorney Killian commended the cooperative efforts of the agencies that participated in this complex investigation, and, in particular, lead HHS-OIG Special Agent Tony Maffei, DOJ Trial Counsel Adam Schwartz, Assistant U.S. Attorney Betsy Tonkin, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Green, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Cunningham.

He said, "This resolution is part of the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and another step for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in May 2009. 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 that effort is the False Claims Act, which the Justice Department has used to recover more than $12.1 billion since January 2009 in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs."

 The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases in 2013 alone exceeded $3.8 billion. False Claims Act recoveries by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee alone during the period since January 2009 exceed $100 million.

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, EDWARD HOMELESS CHATTANOOGA, 37410 52 Chattanooga PUBLIC INTOXICATION BEENE, JENNIFER LENA 4717 ELDRIDGE ROAD HIXSON, 37343 30 Chattanooga DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE DRIVING ON ROADWAYS LANED FOR TRAFFIC, VIOLATION LIGHT LAW VIOLATION RESISTING ARREST OR OBSTRUCTION OF LEGAL ... (click for more)

Corker Gives Statement On White House Veto Threat Against Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act Of 2015

Senator Bob Corker made the following statement regarding the White House’s  threat  of a presidential veto against his bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. "It is disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country," said Senator Corker. "Congress put these ... (click for more)

Net Neutrality: The Beginning Of The End Or Just A New Beginning?

“The Internet is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field,” says Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, “Today’s order is more powerful and more expansive than any previously suggested.”  The FCC’s vote for so-called Net Neutrality purports to allow the agency to regulate the Internet as a public utility.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden On March 1

As I try to do at the beginning of each month, I stroll through my garden to see the good and the bad. This morning there is still a solid covering of snow but, as usual, there is still a lot to see. March is historically known for “coming in like a lion and leaving like a lamb” so let’s see who gets what: A LAMB to the fact 90-year-old Floyd Hartwig of Easton, Calif., and his ... (click for more)

Regoin 3-AA Boys Final At Chattanooga State Monday

The fifth meeting between the Brainerd Panthers and the Central Purple Pounders will be held at Chattanooga State on Monday night with the tipoff set for 7 p.m. This upcoming game will be the biggest to date as it's for the Region 3-AA boys championship. Monday's winner will be at home on Tuesday for a sectional game while the loser will be on the road Tuesday night.  Brainerd ... (click for more)

Brainerd, Central Boys Advance To Region 3-AA Hoop Finals

LOUDON, Tenn. -- Brainerd won both regular-season matchups while Central won at the Best of Preps third-place consolation game before capturing the District 6-AA title last week at Red Bank. The season tally is now two wins each against each other and now they are ready for Round 5 following the Region 3-AA semifinals here at Loudon High School Saturday afternoon. Brainerd ... (click for more)