Department of Justice drowning in pharma whistleblower cases.
More than 900 cases alleging that government contractors and drugmakers have defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars are languishing in a backlog that has built up over the past decade because the Justice Department cannot keep pace with the surge in charges brought by whistle-blowers, according to lawyers involved in the disputes. the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, more than 500 of the cases involve the health care and pharmaceutical industries, as well as Medicare and Medicaid."Whistle-blowers are the key to the secrets locked in closets throughout the federal bureaucracy and government contractors," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "These patriotic Americans stick their necks out, against all odds, to help the federal government pursue fraud and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars that would otherwise be lost."
"Even if no new cases are filed, it might take 10 years for the Department of Justice to clear its desk. Cases in the backlog represent a lot of money being left on the table," said Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, which advocates for Justice to receive more funding to support cases by whistle-blowers and their attorneys.
Among the largest false-claims cases to date are a $650 million settlement earlier this year by drugmaker Merck in connection with an alleged failure to repay Medicaid rebates and a $515 million deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb to cover illegal drug pricing and marketing.
Help from Justice greatly enhances the chances that a complicated fraud scheme can be unraveled, lawyers say. And department statistics show that cases Justice turns away win paltry, if any, financial recoveries.
Hat tip: Pharmagossip