MAJOR HEALTHCARE AND NURSING HOME FRAUD UNVEILED

This month the government unveiled a scheme by two companies Omnicare and IVAX, which was uncovered when whistleblowers came forward to file lawsuits.The settlements WHICH RESULTED IN OVER $112 million returned to the givernment are based on five separate whistle blower lawsuits filed by private individuals and consolidated in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts under state and federal false claims statutes. The states and the federal government alleged that Omnicare and IVAX engaged in several unlawful kickback schemes:

* Omnicare solicited and received $8 million for agreeing to purchase $50 million in generic drugs from IVAX Pharmaceuticals and to push nursing home patients to use the drugs.

* Omnicare paid $50 million to certain nursing home chains in exchange for 15-year contracts to refer nursing home patients to Omnicare for the patients’ drug purchases.

* Omnicare provided pharmacy consultants to long term care facilities throughout the country at below-market rates in exchange for the facilities’ agreeing to use Omnicare’s pharmacy services exclusively.

* Omnicare solicited and received kickback payments in exchange for agreeing to convince physicians to prescribe the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

*Patients were usually transported to routine dialysis treatments by van, but trip records were falsified to make it appear that patients needed to be taken by ambulance for medical reasons.