The US Justice Department has announced that it has recovered $4.7 billion from drug manufacturers and medical device companies under the False Claims Act. The monies come from settlements and judgements against companies who made fraudulent or false claims in the past fiscal year.
“The largest recoveries this past year – $1.2 billion – came from the drug and medical device industry,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release December 14, 2016.
It includes the $784.6 million drug manufacturers Wyeth and Pfizer Inc. paid to resolve federal and state claims about prices for two drugs, Protonix Oral and Protonix IV, medicine to treat acid reflux and indigestion. Those drugs belong to a class of medicines called proton pump inhibitors. They reduce gastric acid, which is generated by the stomach for digestion.
“The government alleged that Wyeth (before it was acquired by Pfizer) failed to report deep discounts available to hospitals, as required by the government to ensure that the Medicaid program enjoyed the same pricing benefits available to the company’s commercial customers,” the news release said. “Wyeth paid $413.2 million to the federal government and $371.4 million to state Medicaid programs.”
Healthcare fraud claims have amounted to more than $19 billion since 2009 and there is no end in sight since most of the pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers view such claims as the cost of doing business. Their bottom line remains unaffected by these fines and penalties which leaves the consumer with faulty medical devices and dangerous drugs that lead to serious injuries, including death. While the federal government is touting these recoveries as a victory in the fight against healthcare fraud, it is obvious that the only winners in this sea of corruption are the large companies preying on unsuspecting consumers.