Massachusetts-based medical device manufacturer Alere Inc. and its subsidiary Alere San Diego have agreed to pay the United States $33.2 million to resolve allegations that Alere caused hospitals to submit false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare programs by knowingly selling materially unreliable point-of-care diagnostic testing devices, the Justice Department announced today.
“The United States is fortunate that innovative healthcare companies regularly develop medical devices that improve patients’ lives, often in remarkable ways,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “But the Department will hold medical device manufacturers accountable if they knowingly sell defective products that waste taxpayer dollars and adversely impact patient care.”
The United States alleged that between January 2006 and March 2012, Alere knowingly sold materially unreliable rapid point-of-care testing devices marketed under the trade name Triage®. The Triage® devices aided in the diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, drug overdose, and other serious conditions, and the devices were frequently used in emergency departments where timely decisions are critical to ensuring proper patient care. According to the government’s allegations, Alere received customer complaints that put it on notice that certain devices it sold produced erroneous results that had the potential to create false positives and false negatives that adversely affected clinical decision-making. Nonetheless, the company failed to take appropriate corrective actions until FDA inspections prompted a nationwide product recall in 2012. Of the $33.2 million to be paid by Alere, $28,378,893 will be returned to the federal government and a total of $4,860,779 will be returned to individual states, which jointly funded claims for Triage devices submitted to state Medicaid programs.
“Physicians who work to treat patients with suspected myocardial infarctions rely upon devices such as Alere’s Triage Cardiac products for quick and accurate readings,” said Stephen M. Schenning, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. “When manufacturers such as Alere make changes to the specifications that affect the product’s reliability without informing physicians or the FDA, patient care is put at substantial risk.” DOJ
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