Gambro Healthcare U.S., Lakewood, Colo., said it will pay $355 million to settle civil and criminal charges stemming from illegal relationships with doctors and pharmaceutical companies in an alleged decade-long fraud scheme that began in 1991. The U.S. subsidiary of Sweden-based Gambro, the world's second-largest dialysis company, also accepted a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS' inspector general's office. The St. Louis U.S. attorney's office, which prosecuted the case, said the U.S. company paid kickbacks to physicians and made false statements to obtain government reimbursement for unnecessary tests and services related to Gambro Supply Co. The company agreed to pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges against the supply unit, which closed in December 2002 and was excluded from Medicare and Medicaid as part of the settlement. The case began with a whistle-blower lawsuit filed in 2001.
Separately, Gambro Healthcare U.S. settled allegations related to its employment of seven people excluded from federal healthcare programs by agreeing to pay $346,000, or 1.5 times the amount billed Medicare for services provided by the individuals. A company spokesman said the company terminated the employees after it discovered they had been excluded and reported the matter to the inspector general's office. He said the company now has an electronic system to match job applicants against a list of excluded providers. -- by Mark Taylor