A press release from States News Services dated March 18 notes that the qui tam lawsuit was originally brought by former employees of Bristol Myers-Squibb (BMS). Michael Wilson, and Eve and Lucius Allen allege in their suit that BMS allowed their sales representatives to entice doctors into prescribing their products through the offer of incentives such as paid trips, tickets to sporting events, expensive meals and other forms of honoraria.
Given that the alleged scheme may have cost the health care system in the State of California billions of dollars in drugs allegedly purchased due to illegal incentives, the Insurance Commissioner for the State of California has now become involved in the action along with the original government whistleblowers.
A qui tam lawsuit can be brought by a private citizen or citizens, if there are allegations of fraud against the government.
"This sort of fraud has long plagued our health insurance system, leading to billions of dollars annually in added health care costs nationally," Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. "Besides the obvious and deplorable ethical violations in such cases, health care fraud also leads to higher premiums for consumers and an unnecessary and unjust increase in health care costs. As Insurance Commissioner, I will use the full force and resources of this department to root out insurance fraud and hold all responsible people and companies accountable.
"In this particular case, we are uncertain whether the kickback scheme is still occurring," Jones added. "If discovery discloses that violations are continuing, the Department will seek an injunction and penalties to address those violations."
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The Qui Tam Whistleblower action was originally filed under seal in Superior Court, Los Angeles. A jury will decide the case.