International renal-care giant Fresenius Medical Care has settled a federal false-claims civil lawsuit for $16.5 million. The company did not admit any wrongdoing.
The claims stemmed from whistleblower lawsuits charging Fresenius with giving kickbacks to physicians who ordered unnecessary mobile diagnostic tests for the company's patients across the U.S., said Michael Stiles, U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, whose office prosecuted the case.
The tests-including echocardiograms, nerve conduction studies, ultrasound arterial studies, cardiac autonomic neuropathy studies and electrocardiograms-were marketed by Biotrax International from 1992 to 1995. In 1994 Fair Lawn, N.J.-based Biotrax was bought by National Medical Care, which Fresenius purchased in 1996.
The U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia, the FBI and HHS' inspector general's office investigated the claims based on information included in three whistleblower lawsuits filed in 1995 and 1996 and recently unsealed. The whistleblowers will receive nearly $3.3 million.
Frankfurt, Germany-based Fresenius was charged with violating federal anti-kickback laws and filing false claims.
The company is the world's largest provider of dialysis services to patients with end-stage renal disease. The company has more than 1,000 dialysis centers worldwide, and its U.S. subsidiary is Fresenius Medical Care North America, headquartered in Lexington, Mass. It posted a profit of $37 million on net revenues of $915 million for the quarter ended March 31.