False Claims Act suits recouped $4.7 billion in fiscal year 2016, capping a historic run for FCA enforcement under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
The total haul easily eclipsed the nearly $3.6 billion recouped in fiscal year 2015 and represents the third-biggest annual tally in the FCA’s history. It's the icing on the cake for an epic surge of FCA enforcement under the Obama administration, which has utilized the Civil War-era law with unprecedented vigor. The administration has clawed back $31 billion for federal coffers since January 2009 — almost 60 percent of all FCA proceeds since the law was strengthened in 1986.
The majority of the $31 billion reflects improper billing of government health programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. And that remained true in 2016, when $2.5 billion of the $4.7 billion involved health care programs.
The biggest health care payout of 2016 came from Pfizer Inc., which inked a $785 million deal to resolve allegations its Wyeth unit overcharged Medicaid for heartburn drug Protonix. 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 this settlement.
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