NEWARK, N.J. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Justice and 28 states have reached an $8 million settlement with Omnicare Inc. resolving allegations arising from a whistle-blower suit filed under the False Claims Act. The agreement was announced yesterday by Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey and the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. The United States alleged that Omnicare, in an effort to increase business efficiency and profit, designed and implemented an automated label verification system at certain locations that utilized a less specific drug code – known as “MEDID” – during its automated Stage II pharmacist verification process, instead of the more specific National Drug Code (NDC).
This system resulted in the submission by Omnicare of claims for generic drugs different from those actually dispensed to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. It also resulted in the dispensing of drugs with patient-specific labels displaying the incorrect manufacturer or NDC. The government alleged that the false manufacturer and NDC information on the labels, and within Omnicare’s electronic dispensing information, affected Omnicare’s ability to properly track and, if necessary, conduct patient-level recalls of such drugs.
“Ensuring accuracy in the dispensing of and billing for medication in the Medicare Part D and Medicaid Programs, especially to long-term care patients, is vital to public safety,” Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said.
The relators, or whistler-blowers, in the underlying qui tam will receive more than $2 million as their statutory share of the recovery and to resolve their employment based claims in accordance with the False Claims Act. The civil lawsuit was filed in the District of New Jersey and is captioned U.S. et al. ex rel. Elizabeth Corsi and Christopher Ezzie v. Omnicare Inc.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and special agents from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, for the investigation leading to the settlement.
The government is represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey, Deputy Chief, Civil Division, David Dauenheimer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernard Cooney of the Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit, and the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Senior Litigation Counsel Laurie A. Oberembt. The Office of Inspector General and the Office of the General Counsel for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services also participated in the investigation and settlement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office reorganized its health care practice in 2010 and created a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since that time, the office has recovered more than $1.33 billion in health care and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and other statutes.
Counsel for relators: Charles C. Goetsch Esq., New Haven, Connecticut.
Counsel for defendant: Michael Martinez Esq., New York