A small southern Florida firm is set to rake in $88.4 million as a reward for blowing the whistle in False Claims Act cases settled last week against several pharmaceutical companies, the Florida Keys Keynoter reported.
Ven-A-Care of the Florida Keys Inc. is set to collect the biggest payment in its history for exposing alleged schemes by Abbott Laboratories Inc., B. Braun Medical Inc., Roxane Laboratories Inc. and their affiliated business entities to inflate the prices of drugs purchased by federal health care programs. The pharmaceutical companies will pay $421 million in total to settle the lawsuits.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer of the Southern District commended Ven-A-Care, calling the company “an alert South Florida whistleblower,” according to the newspaper. A representative of the firm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Main Justice.
Ven-A-Care started out in 1987 a pharmacy serving home-bound AIDS patients. It later found a lucrative niche shining light on drug companies that defraud Medicaid and Medicare. Its first big payday - $40 million - came in 2000, when it exposed a competitor for paying kickbacks to doctors and inflating prices charged to the government programs.
Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit organization that promotes use of the False Claims Act, called Ven-A-Care its Whistleblower of the Year in 2006.
“The truth is, these guys should win it every year,” Taxpayers Against Fraud spokesman Patrick Burns told the Keynoter in 2009. “What they have done is truly inspirational. They have changed the way the health-care industry does business, and prevented billions and billions of fraud against the Medicare and Medicaid programs that we all pay for.”