Total of $31.3 billion surpasses amount collected under the prior three administrations combined
The Justice Department has collected $31.3 billion during the Obama administration from companies that defrauded the government, more than the amount collected under the prior three administrations combined, according to data released Wednesday.
The department said it had collected $53 billion from such cases since 1986, driven in large part by whistleblowers who uncovered overcharges to federal health programs. Fifty-nine percent of that money came from settlements and judgments since Fiscal Year 2009, the agency said.
That number was boosted by several major health care settlements, including billions in penalties levied on GlaxoSmithKline LLC, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer Inc. for marketing drugs for unapproved uses and for overbilling federal health programs, including Medicare.
Whistleblowers can file complaints alleging that government contractors or health-care providers are overbilling and defrauding federal programs, and under the law they can collect a share of any resulting penalties. The Justice Department examines the complaints under seal and sometimes decides to join the cases. The agency said such whistleblowers collected $519.6 million in the 2016 fiscal year.
The Justice Department, for its part, collected a total of $4.7 billion in cases under the whistleblower law, the False Claims Act, in Fiscal Year 2016, including a $784.6 million settlement with Pfizer over allegations that its Wyeth unit overcharged Medicaid for the heartburn drug Protonix. The Justice Department’s filed its lawsuit in April 2009.
Jeanne A. Markey and Gary L. Azorsky, Co-chairs of Cohen Milstein’s Whistleblower / False Claims Act practice, served as Co-lead Counsel representing whistleblower Lauren Kieff in the $784.6 million settlement with Pfizer.
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