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July 2, 2020

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will pay $21 million to resolve SEC charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Alexion subsidiaries in Turkey and Russia were alleged to have made payments to foreign officials in those countries in order to secure favorable regulatory treatment for Alexion’s drug Soliris, and to increase the number of prescriptions for the drug.  The Turkish and Russian subsidiaries, as well as Alexion subsidiaries in Brazil and Colombia, falsified their books and records with respect to improper payments, and Alexion’s internal accounting controls were not adequate to detect or prevent the improper payments and accounting.  SEC

July 1, 2020

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will pay a total of $678 million to resolve a case brought by a whistleblower, Oswald Bilotta, alleging that between 2002 and 2011 the pharmaceutical company violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by providing doctors with cash payments and luxury travel and meals to induce them to prescribe Novartis cardiovascular and diabetes drugs reimbursed by federal healthcare programs.  The total settlement consists of $591.4 million as federal FCA damages, $48.2 million as state FCA damages for Medicaid false claims, and $38.4 million as forfeiture under the Anti-Kickback Statute.  The whistleblower award has not yet been determined.  In addition to the monetary settlement, Novartis entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement obligating the company to, among other things, significantly reduce its volume and spending on paid speaker programs.  DOJ; USAO SDNY

July 1, 2020

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will pay $51.25 million to resolve claims that it unlawfully funneled money to three different foundations – The Assistance Fund, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, and the Chronic Disease Fund – so that those organizations could fund co-payments owed by Medicare beneficiary patients prescribed the Novartis drugs Gilenya (for multiple sclerosis) and Afinitor (for renal cell carcinoma and certain pancreatic cancers).  The payments were alleged to be in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act.  USAO Mass; DOJ

June 30, 2020

Ophthalmic Consultants, P.A. and its principal Robert K. Snyder have agreed to pay $4.8 million to resolve claims that they unlawfully billed federal healthcare programs for the drugs ranibizumab (Lucentis®) and aflipercept (Eylea®).  While the drugs are sold in single-use vials, defendants used single vials to provide doses to multiple patients, allowing them to obtain excessive reimbursement from Medicare, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.  USAO MD FL

June 25, 2020

George Philip Tompkins of Houston, Texas, the former owner of Piney Point Pharmacy, was sentenced to ten years in prison following his conviction on charges of healthcare fraud, unlawful kickbacks, money laundering, and wire fraud.  Tompkins billed $21.8 million to federal and state worker’s compensation programs for medically unnecessary compound gels and creams, paying kickbacks to generate prescriptions while claiming that the kickbacks were legitimate marketing expenses. Thompson was also ordered to pay restitution of $12.3 million. DOJ

June 25, 2020

Novartis AG, a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, along with its Greek subsidiary, Novartis Hellas S.A.C.I. (Novartis Greece), have agreed to pay $233 million to the DOJ and $112 to the SEC, for a combined penalty of $345 million, in order to resolve charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  A former subsidiary, Alcon Pte Ltd—now a subsidiary of multinational eyecare company, Alcon Ltd—has agreed to pay $8.9 million to resolve similar charges.  Between 2012 and 2016, the subsidiaries allegedly bribed employees of state-owned hospitals and clinics in Greece and Vietnam to use Novartis or Alcon-branded products while falsely recording the improper payments.  As part of the settlement, both Novartis Greece and Alcon Pte Ltd will also enter into deferred prosecution agreements with DOJ.  DOJ; USAO NJ; SEC

June 16, 2020

A doctor in Mississippi has been sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $5 million in restitution and judgment for committing healthcare fraud against multiple insurers, including TRICARE.  In exchange for a 35% cut of reimbursements, Dr. Shahjahan Sultan had agreed to enter into a contract with a local pharmacy to prescribe expensive compound medications to insured patients, which he did without regard to medical necessity, and which resulted in over $8 million in losses to insurers.  USAO SDMS

April 6, 2020

Georgia-based MiMedx Group Inc. has agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle allegations of defrauding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by knowingly submitting false commercial pricing disclosures, in violation of the False Claims Act.  According to a qui tam complaint by whistleblowers Jess Kruchoski and Luke Tornquist, the false pricing disclosures enabled MiMedx to charge inflated prices for human tissue graft products.  Kruchoski and Tornquist will receive a relator’s share of $1,625,000.  DOJ; USAO MN

April 2, 2020

FPR Specialty Pharmacy LLC and Mead Square Pharmacy, Inc., along with owners Christopher Casey and William Rue, have agreed to pay $426,000 to settle a whistleblower-brought case alleging violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act in connection with a compounded prescription analgesic cream called Focused Pain Relief.  As part of the settlement, the defendants admitted that from 2011 to 2015, they sold prescription drugs to patients in states they were not licensed to sell in, failed to charge mandatory co-pays to beneficiaries of various federal healthcare programs, and paid sales agents to solicit physicians to prescribe the cream.  USAO SDNY

April 1, 2020

A physician’s assistant in Louisiana, Stephen Honeycutt, has agreed to pay $620,500 for accepting illegal kickbacks from OK Compounding, LLC, which has been involved in multiple enforcement actions of a similar nature across the country.  Over a period of about six months in 2013, Honeycutt prescribed expensive compounded pain creams to patients, many of whom were Medicare and TRICARE beneficiaries, in exchange for kickbacks disguised as medical director fees.  USAO NDOK
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