The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from false claims cases in the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013. This annual recovery under the False Claims Act is the second largest in history, with the annual recovery from FY 2012 representing the largest at $5 billion. The DOJ attributed the success to the operation of the interagency Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), which has led to the recovery of $12.1 billion in federal health care dollars from January 2009 through the end of FY 2013.
The DOJ noted that the largest recoveries in 2013 related to health care fraud, reaching $2.6 billion. $1.8 billion of the $2.6 billion recovered stemmed from allegations of fraud and false claims related to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Many of the settlements with pharmaceutical companies involved allegations that drugs were improperly promoted for off-label use. In one notable settlement, Abbott Laboratories Inc. entered into a $1.5 billion settlement after it was alleged to have illegally promoted the drug Depakote to treat agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients and schizophrenic patients, both off-label uses. Other major pharmaceutical cases involved allegations related to the manufacture and distribution of adulterated drugs.
The DOJ also announced that the number of qui tam suits filed in FY 2013 also set a record at 752,100 more than the record set in FY 2012. Qui tam recoveries in FY 2013 totaled $2.9 billion out of the total $3.8 billion recovered, with whistleblowers recovering $345 million.
The DOJ press release related to FY 2013 false claims recoveries is available at:
Department of Justice. “Justice Department Recovers $3.8 Billion from False Claims Act Cases in Fiscal Year 2013.” Justice News. 20 Dec. 2013.