A leading wholesale drug company that distributes a significant share of pharmaceuticals to Louisiana and the rest of the country, agreed to a settlement based on a claim that it repackaged and sold contaminated oncology drugs to the federal government. The $885 million settlement includes more than $600 million in civil damages.
The initial allegations were brought as the result of a qui tam lawsuit. In such an action, a private citizen can sue a company for allegedly cheating the federal or state government in some way. The citizen, who typically works for the company and is known in the court action as the “relator” or whistleblower, acts as a third-party suing in place of the government. If successful, the private citizen may be eligible to receive between 15 -25 percent of the recovery.
In this case, AmerisourceBergen Corporation was accused of overbilling Medicare, the Veterans’ Administration and other government agencies. The $600 million-plus civil settlement may entitle the whistleblower to over $90 million. Whistleblower laws are clearly designed to encourage those with knowledge of fraud perpetuated against the government to step forward with that knowledge.
Whistleblowers could face stiff opposition from the company accused of wrongdoing and may never again be employed within that field of work. Additionally, the more concise and clear the case, the more likely the government will join in and add its significant resources to the furtherance of the matter. An experienced qui tam lawyer can evaluate a potential claim to determine if it’s worth pursuing.