Abbott Laboratories has agreed to pay the United States $5.475 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce doctors to implant the company’s carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products. Carotid and peripheral vascular products are used to treat circulatory disorders by increasing blood flow to the head and various parts of the body, respectively. Biliary products are used to treat obstructions that occur in the bile ducts.
“Patients have a right to treatment decisions that are based on their own medical needs, not the personal financial interests of their health care providers,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “Kickbacks undermine the ability of health care providers to objectively evaluate and treat their patients, and will continue to be a primary focus of the Department’s health care enforcement efforts.”
The settlement resolves allegations that Abbott knowingly paid prominent physicians for teaching assignments, speaking engagements, and conferences with the expectation that these physicians would arrange for the hospitals with which they were affiliated to purchase Abbott’s carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products. As a result, the U.S. alleged Abbott violated the Anti-Kickback Act and caused the submission of false claims to Medicare for the procedures in which these Abbott products were used.
The settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed by two former Abbott employees, under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery As part of today’s resolution, they will receive a total payment of more than $1 million.
See the DOJ Announcement
See also Medical Law Perspectives, April 2012 Report: Using Medical Devices Off-Label: False Claims, Overpromotion, Malpractice, and Other Dangerous Territory
See also Medical Law Perspectives, November 2013 Report: Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Attacks: Liability Issues