When a company pays millions to settle False Claims Act allegations, where does that money go? That answer might be more convoluted than you think, according to an article from BioPharmaDive.
Some of the fines and settlements paid by healthcare companies go to whistleblowers, who receive a portion of the qui tam lawsuit. In 2014, whistleblowers received $435 million of the nearly $3 billion in qui tam lawsuits. Between 2009 and 2014, the government has paid out close to $2.5 billion to whistleblowers.
Beyond that, however, the money can be difficult to track.
"In a world in which we are all looking for accountability, there isn't real good accounting on where the money goes," Patrick Burns, co-director of Taxpayers Against Fraud, told BioPharmaDive.
A portion of it goes to the Crime Victims Fund, set up by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to help victims of fraud. Right now, however, the fund is flush with $9 billion. False claims fines are even murkier. Some funding goes to the Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Control Program to help further anti-fraud activity, but the rest goes to a slush fund, which the DOJ uses for what it might consider more important matters, such as terrorism.
Burns says that money could be reinvested into prosecuting additional False Claims Act cases that the DOJ does not have the funds to act on.
Instead of multi-billion dollar fines, Burns believes the government should exclude individuals who participate in fraud schemes, echoing the sentiment that fines offer very little in terms of accountability, particularly within the pharmaceutical industry. Recently, however, there has been more evidence that the government is willing to go after individuals in an effort to combat fraud.
- read the BioPharmaDive article
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