Whistleblower lawsuits are generally filed by insiders who have unique access to what goes on inside of organizations and agencies, and whose access has made them aware of fraud against the government.
But recently a recent False Claims Act lawsuit filed against AmerisourceBergen Corporation was settled and awarded approximately $100 million to three whistleblowers, two of whom had no insider relationship to the company. The two are pharmacists working for organizations that provide oncology services to patients, and who noticed something amiss in the supplies that they were receiving.
The two whistleblowers each worked in different organizations – a Michigan hospital and a multispecialty physician group based in Florida. Both noticed that prefilled syringes were being sold to them with unusually close expiration dates. The syringes were also uniformly overfilled, resulting in Medicare automatically being billed an additional 10%.
Whistleblowers Noticed Overfilled Chemotherapy Syringes
When the whistleblowers noticed that the overfilled syringes consistently had 14-day expiration periods rather than the standard 30, 60 or 90 days, the pharmacists became suspicious. Similarly, both noticed that the syringes were being received for fictitious patients, in amounts that were far greater than the normal single patient dosage.
At the same time, they began receiving financial incentives from AmerisourceBergen’s subsidiary, Oncology Supply, encouraging them to offer the prefilled syringes that they had received to physicians. They realized that the company was splitting the profits of the overfilled vials with the physicians, a kickback that is illegal.
It is more difficult for whistleblowers who are outsiders to file False Claims Act lawsuits because they do not have access to internal documents that prove their claims. However, the two pharmacists who received the whistleblower award were teamed with an insider from AmerisourceBergen, resulting in the $100 million reward that was split three ways.