Top Ten Whistleblower Awards of 2019
2019 was another strong year for whistleblowers, who once again collectively recovered billions of dollars for the government and hundreds of millions of dollars in whistleblower rewards through their filing of lawsuits under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Whistleblowers this past year also continued to secure financial rewards under the Dodd-Frank SEC Whistleblower and CFTC Whistleblower programs, and under the various state False Claims Act programs.
Set forth below is a listing of the Top-10 whistleblower awards of 2019 (based on either the amount of the award or the government recovery). Please contact us if you would like more information on any of these whistleblower rewards programs or would like to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower lawyers. And to gage the likelihood of yourself becoming a whistleblower, please spend a minute to take our whistleblower quiz. You might be surprised in the result.
- Reckitt — Multiple whistleblowers received awards from the $700 million Reckitt Benckiser Group plc paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act relating to its marketing and sale of its opioid addiction treatment drug Suboxone (through its then-subsidiary Indivior Inc.). The settlement was part of a $1.4 billion global settlement resolving criminal, civil, and administrative claims relating to charges Indivior made unsupported claims that the drug was less-divertable and less-abusable than other buprenorphine drugs, and steered patients to doctors with a history of over-prescribing Suboxone and other opioids.
- JPMorgan — Two anonymous whistleblowers shared a SEC whistleblower award of $50 million (one receiving $37M; the other receiving $13M) relating to securities fraud by JPMorgan. Pursuant to the SEC’s strict whistleblower confidentiality provisions, the SEC did not reveal either the identities of the whistleblowers or the subject of the SEC enforcement action.
- Walgreens — Adam Rahimi and Christopher Schulte will collectively receive a whistleblower award of tens of millions of dollars from the $209.2 million Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by dispensing insulin pens to patients who did not need them.
- Insys Therapeutics — Several whistleblowers shared in a whistleblower award of tens of millions of dollars from the $195 million Insys paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by improperly marketing its Subsys drug and paying kickbacks to providers to induce their prescribing of the drug.
- Duke University — Former Duke employee Joseph Thomas received a whistleblower award of $33.75 million from the $112.5 million Duke paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims for funding under dozens of NIH and EPA grants that contained falsified information.
- Avanir Pharmaceuticals — Former Avanir employees Kevin Manieri, Duane Arnold and Mark Shipman collectively received a whistleblower award of $17.8 million from the roughly $103 million Avanir paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act relating to its marketing of Nuedextra for off-label purposes and providing healthcare professionals with unlawful remuneration to induce them to write prescriptions for Nuedexta.
- Inform Diagnostics — Three whistleblowers collectively received a whistleblower award from the $63.5 million Inform Diagnostics (formerly known as Miraca Life Sciences) paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law by providing referring physicians subsidies for electronic health records systems along with free or discounted technology consulting services.
- Walgreens — Marc D. Baker received a whistleblower award from the $60 million Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. paid to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by charging Medicaid more than the “usual and customary price” for medications that participants in Walgreens “Prescriptions Savings Club” received at a lower price.
- Encompass Health — Three whistleblowers collectively received a whistleblower award of $12.4 million from the $48 million Encompass Health Corporation paid to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act by falsely diagnosing patients and improperly admitting patients too sick or disabled to participate in physical therapy. Encompass is the country’s largest operator of inpatient rehabilitation facilities and the three whistleblowers were former contract physician Dr. Emese Simon, former director of therapy operations Melissa Higgins, and former medical director Dr. Darius Clarke.
- Anonymous CFTC Whistleblower — An undisclosed whistleblower who reported violations of the Commodity Exchange Act under the CFTC Whistleblower Reward Program received $7 million. Pursuant to the CFTC’s whistleblower confidentiality provisions, the CFTC did not reveal the identity of the whistleblower or the subject of the CFTC enforcement action.
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