Pharmaceutical giants: Serono Laboratories Inc., EMD Serono Inc., Merck Serono S.A, and Ares Trading S.A. have agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations in connection with the marketing of the drug Rebif for $44.3 million, according to a recent announcement by the Department of Justice.
Under the Serno agreement, proceeds from the settlement will be split between the federal government and various states, with the United States receiving $34.6 million to resolve the federal claims and the states receiving $9.7 million to settle their respective claims under Medicaid.
As a Florida False Claims Act and Whistleblower Law Firm, we applaud the whistleblower, Tim Amato, who brought the qui tam suit in 2005. The False Claims Act permits private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery. Mr Amato will receive $5.19 million out of the federal share of the Serno civil settlement.
Allegedly, health care providers were paid from the launch of Rebif in January 2002 through December 2009, to promote or prescribe Rebif, a recombinant interferon that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. The payments were made to providers for hundreds of speaker training meetings and programs, as well as payments for attending consultant, marketing and advisory board meetings, all at upscale resorts and other locations. Serono’s actions allegedly resulted in the submission of false claims to federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid for the payment of Rebif, i.e., claims that were tainted by kickbacks.
It is a great day in America when the government can combat corporate greed and health care fraud. The False Claims Act is a powerful tool in that effort and allows the government to recover triple the amount of its actual damages, plus a civil penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false claim.
We encourage whistleblowers to come forward and report fraud against the government. If you are aware of corporate fraud against the federal or state government, contact a whistleblower or qui tam lawyer to discuss your legal rights and steps to take on reporting the fraud.
Click on the following links to read more on the $44.3M Serno FCA Settlement: