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Almirall to Pay $6.6 Million to Resolve Whistleblower Claims That It Paid Kickbacks to Doctors
PHILADELPHIA, May 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Pharmaceutical companies Almirall, LLC (formerly known as Aqua Pharmaceuticals, LLC), of Pennsylvania, and Almirall, S.A., a Spanish company, have agreed to pay the United States $3.5 million to resolve allegations that they used kickbacks to induce physicians to purchase their dermatology products.
The California Department of Insurance also settled a separate, but similar, claim on behalf of that state against the companies for $3.1 million at the same time.
The settlements stem from a whistleblower complaint filed by a former employee of Aqua pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
Ross Feller Casey, LLP, a leading Philadelphia-based personal injury law firm with a national reputation, represented the whistleblower in the matter. Following the whistleblower's filing, the government intervened and Brian J. McCormick, Jr. of Ross Feller Casey worked with government lawyers to litigate and ultimately settle this case.
"Decisions about pharmaceutical products should be based on the best interests of the patient, not on whether the manufacturer pays a kickback," said McCormick, who has a large and successful whistleblower practice. "These sorts of improper financial incentives undermine the integrity of medical decisions, waste taxpayer funds and are unfair to competitors who play by the rules."
The whistleblower, a former sales representative of the company in suburban Philadelphia, alleged that Aqua caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare by using illegal kickbacks, including excessive speaker and advisory fees, as well as gifts and meals to staff in doctors' offices to induce orders of dermatologic products, including Monodox®, Cordran® and ACTICLATE®. The U.S. concluded that these payments, which took place over several years across the U.S., violated the Anti-Kickback Act.
The settlement was the result of a significant effort by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Under the settlement, the whistleblower will receive more than $1.7 million.
McCormick praised the government's work in the case. "The attorneys and investigators were incredibly diligent in investigating the allegations in our complaint," McCormick said. "It was an honor to work alongside Tony Scicchitano and Charlene Fullmer and to stop this type of misconduct."
Ross Feller Casey's whistleblower practice group represents whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases as well as cases filed under IRS, SEC and other whistleblower statutes.
Contact: Brian J. McCormick, Jr. at (215) 231-3740 or (215) 687-7965.
SOURCE Ross Feller Casey, LLP