The U.S. Justice Department took in a record $2.5 billion from healthcare False Claims Act cases in fiscal 2010, a tally fattened with a few massive settlements by pharmaceutical companies accused of illegally marketing their products.
As is perennially the case, healthcare cases made up the bulk of the recoveries from all False Claims Act cases. In fiscal 2010, healthcare accounted for 83% of the $3 billion yielded by civil fraud cases in which companies are alleged to have misappropriated taxpayer funds.
The biggest contributor was Pfizer, which agreed to pay the U.S. $669 million as part of a $2.2 billion agreement resolving civil and criminal allegations of off-label marketing. In the largest hospital settlement of the year, Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, and its former parent, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, paid $108 million in a case involving alleged preferential treatment of cardiologists whose work brought the hospital the most revenue.
Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil division, said in a conversation with reporters that the numbers reflect the way the Obama administration has marshaled resources rather than an increase in bad behavior.
"What we set out to do early in this administration was to focus on healthcare fraud and fraud more generally, and we are making good on that commitment," West said.