Allergan, Inc., has agreed to pay $13 million to the United States and 19 States to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it engaged in a kickback scheme in violation of multiple federal and state laws. The suit, filed and litigated by the Philadelphia law firm Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti and Chicago law firm Goldberg Kohn, on behalf of two prominent Philadelphia-area ophthalmologists, claimed that Allergan provided business consulting and other valuable services to eye care providers to induce them to write prescriptions for Allergan eye care products. These products were paid for by the Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.
The complaint was filed in 2009 under the qui tam, or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act and similar State False Claims laws. The False Claims Act encourages private citizens to report fraud against the government by allowing them to sue on behalf of the government and receive a share of any recovery. After the Government elected in 2010 not to intervene in the lawsuit, the whistleblowers and their legal team continued to pursue the kickback allegations against Allergan, and ultimately secured the $13 million recovery on behalf of federal and state taxpayers.
The unsealed complaint alleged that Allergan knowingly provided valuable business consulting services, continuing medical education, and other valuable services to eye care providers throughout the United States who enrolled in Allergan’s proprietary “Allergan Access” program. The primary purpose for providing these valuable services was to induce doctors to write prescriptions for Allergan’s eye care products, many of which had less expensive treatment alternatives.
“We are very proud to represent two prominent and highly credentialed ophthalmologists, who had the integrity and courage to come forward. Their efforts have saved American taxpayers many millions of dollars by putting a stop to Allergan’s scheme” said Marc S. Raspanti, a principal at Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti.
“Patients deserve to know that their medical professional is making decisions based on their best interests and not because a drug company is offering incentives to steer patients to specific drugs” said David Chizewer, a principal at Goldberg Kohn.
The legal team for the two whistleblowers was led by Michael A. Morse and Pamela Coyle Brecht from the Pietragallo firm, and Matthew Organ from the Goldberg Kohn firm.
The government’s legal team who oversaw the non-intervened settlement was led by Assistant United States Attorneys Charlene Keller Fullmer, and United States Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jennifer Cihon. Jay Speers, Counsel to New York Attorney General, and Robert Patten, a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Massachusetts, both played an integral role in investigating the whistleblowers’ kickback allegations against Allergan.
The lawsuit is United States of America ex rel. Herbert J. Nevyas, M.D. and Anita Nevyas-Wallace, M.D. v. Allergan, Inc., Civil Action No. 09-CV-00432 (E.D. Pa.) (United States District Court Judge Mark A. Kearney).