Nurse Pleads Guilty to Taking Kickbacks From Drug Maker
The New York Times
June 25, 2015
A Connecticut nurse has pleaded guilty to federal charges of accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics, an Arizona drug manufacturer that sells the powerful painkiller Subsys. According to federal prosecutors, the nurse worked in a pain clinic and was a top prescriber of Sybsys to Medicare patients. Prosecutors said she was being paid by the company for speaking engagements, even though many times the only other person in attendance was a sales representative for Insys, or friends and colleagues who had no authority to prescribe the drug.
“I think it means big trouble for the company,” Marcella Auerbach, a former federal prosecutor who now represents whistle-blowers in fraud cases. “I think it takes two to tango to do kickbacks – a giver and a receiver.”
Ms. Auerbach and others said the nurse’s guilty plea may mean that prosecutors are seeking to strike deals with individuals in exchange for providing additional information about the company’s practices.
High Court Ruling on FCA Limitations Period, Bar on Filings Gives Providers Mixed Result
June 3, 2015
On May 26, 2015 a unanimous decision was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court that said a strict six-year limitations period applies to civil actions brought by whistle-blowers under the False Claims Act.
The court’s interpretation is a “common sense reading” of the statute, Joseph E.B. “Jeb” White of Nolan Auerbach & White PL, Philadelphia, told Bloomberg BNA May 26. White filed an amicus curiae brief in support.
The opinion will have a significant impact on existing qui tam actions and on cases going forward, White said.
“What happens in the real world is, people come to us with a potential claim, and the first thing we try to do is find out if there’s another case that’s currently pending,” White said.
Having to go back and also look for “some dusty case” that was dismissed “for whatever reason” years ago “really does undercut our ability to prosecute fraud cases,” he said.
“If it had gone the other way,” it would discourage “a lot of cases from ever being filed,” White said.
One “simply can’t take the risk of encouraging people to step forward and potentially be blackballed in an industry” without a level of comfort and certainty” that the case won’t be immediately thrown out, he said.
Here the court “laid out a very clear bright line rule for relators and relators’ counsel to understand, so they can go forward with some level of certainty,” White said.
What Happened After She Helped Nurse at Catholic Healthcare Blow Whistle on her Employer?
November 5, 2014
A settlement agreement between Dignity Health and the Justice Deparment was announced on October 30, 2014 for $36.7 million. The whistleblower in this case, Kathleen Hawkins, a registered nurse who worked as a director of medical management at Catholic Healthcare West (which changed its name to Dignity Health during the course of litigation), was represented by Nolan Auerbach & White.
The Complaint alleged Dignity Health caused the defendant hospitals – 13 hospitals out of 39 in its system – to admit patients for procedures that could be performed on an outpatient basis from 2006-2010. Inpatient reimbursements are significantly higher, the Justice Department said.
“They are subject to a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the DOJ, and they have to have an independent review. They have to hire a third-party to review the accuracy of all their claims submitted to federal health care programs, and not just for the 13 hospitals, but for their entire system. That’s a pretty big undertaking,” Auerbach said.
Nolan Auerbach & White Partner, Joseph E.B. “Jeb” White presented to an audience of over 500 attendees during a BNA Bloomberg webcast titled, “Common Defenses to False Claims Act and How to Defeat Them.” Mr. White was joined on the presentation by respected False Claims Act attorney, James B. Helmer Jr., of Helmer, Martins, Rice & Popham, LPA. The webcast took place on October 28, 2014.
Jeb White Appears on NPR Affiliate Radio Show
April 15, 2014
Recently Nolan Auerbach & White Partner, Jeb White, appeared on an hour-long radio show for National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The “Smart Talk” radio program focused on whistleblower laws and Mr. White was joined on the program by Penn State Law Professor Katherine Pearson.
$168 Million Payout to Johnson & Johnson Whistleblowers
November 4, 2015
The $2.2 billion settlement between Johnson & Johnson and authorities means a record payout for whistleblowers. Joe Strom, a former employee of Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Scios, will receive the entire $28 million awarded in California. He first brought suit against J&J in 2005 and ultimately helped government attorneys prepare for depositions and build their case. Strom worked for Scios for nine months in 2003 and 2004, said his attorney Jeb White, a partner at Nolan Auerbach & White.
The $2.2 billion settlement settles charges that J&J marketed drugs for unapproved uses and gave kickbacks to doctors and nursing homes. Attorney General Eric Holder said Johnson & Johnson and two subsidiaries “lined their pockets at the expense of the American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry.
Johnson & Johnson, 2 Units Plead Guilty, Pay $2.2 Billion in Criminal, Civil Penalties
LexisNexis Legal Newsroom
November 4, 2013
This article announced that two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries plead guilty, and the parent company will pay $2.2 billion in criminal fines civil penalties and forfeitures in one criminal and several civil cases for off-label marketing three drugs, for paying kickbacks to health care providers and a nationwide pharmacy, and for causing false claims to be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid. Nolan Auerbach & White represented relator Joe Strom in his civil qui tam case against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Scios Inc, for the drug Natrecor. Johnson & Johnson and Scios agreed to pay $184 million to resolve the Natrecor false claims allegations.
Johnson & Johnson also agreed to enter into a 5 year corporate integrity agreement under which it will take back bonuses from current and former executives who engage in “significant misconduct,” the Justice Department said.
Johnson & Johnson Whistleblower, Represented by Nolan Auerbach & White, Partners with Government in Eight-Year-Long Battle Resulting in Recovery of Over a Quarter of a Billion Dollars.
November 4, 2013
This article published by MarketWatch announced the conclusion of our client’s 8-year-long civil False Claims Act case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Scios, Inc. The qui tam was brought in July 2005 by Joe Strom, a former Scios area manager. Both Defendants paid $184 million to resolve civil allegations that they unlawfully promoted their cardiac drug Natrecor for unapproved uses. In addition, in 2011, Scios agreed to pay and $85 million criminal fine and to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of introducing misbranded Natrecor into interstate commerce. This settlement was part of a $2.2 billion global settlement between the government and Johnson & Johnson. “When pharmaceutical manufacturers promote drugs for uses that have not cleared the FDA approval process, they are jeopardizing the safety Americans and thwarting the federal law,” explained Nolan Auerbach & White Partner, Marcella Auerbach. “Real lives are at stake when drug companies engage in off-label promotions.”
Jeb White on Low Hanging Fruit, Boxed Fruit and Health Care Fraud
Corporate Crime Reporter
February 19, 2012
In this article, Nolan Auerbach & White Partner, Jeb White, provides commentary on the government’s high standards when it comes to intervening in health care fraud whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. “The False Claims Act gives the government a chance to look at the case to decide whether or not they are going to intervene in the action. And because of that, the government has to be selective. They don’t want just low hanging fruit. They want boxed fruit,” said White. Only 100 cases are settled every year – and 75 percent of the dollar recoveries are from health care fraud cases.
Outlook 2012: Compliance Officers Should Prepare for Long, Strange Trip in Year Ahead
Report on Medicare Compliance
January 16, 2012
In its annual “Outlook” issue, Report on Medicare Compliance interviewed Nolan Auerbach partner Jeb White about the emerging trends and concerns in Medicare fraud. Mr. White commented on the Justice Department’s increased interest in qui tam actions that solely allege kickback schemes. “In the past, DOJ [was] hesitant to get involved in pure kickback cases,” explained Mr. White. Now, DOJ is interested even when a case involves kickbacks alone, because the health reform law made kickbacks a per se False Claims Act violation, noted Mr. White.