The U.S. Justice Department recovered more than $5 billion under the False Claims Act since the beginning of 2009, the largest amount in any two-year period in history, a DOJ official said today.
In that time, health care fraud recovery accounted for $4.6 billion, Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division told reporters. West said the overall recovery amount included cases of procurement fraud, grants for small businesses and federal and Indian mineral leases. In fiscal year 2010, DOJ recovered $3 billion.
“This is money that would have otherwise padded the pockets and bank account of defendants” who put profit above quality provision of services, West said today.
Most of the cases that resulted in a recovery of taxpayer money were brought through the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, West said. He thanked whistleblowers for risking their careers and reputations to expose fraud.
West said the department will continue to investigate corporations and individuals. He mentioned what he called “mega-pharma cases”—including the government’s settlement with Pfizer, which netted the return of nearly $670 million in federal health care funds, and the nearly $520 million deal with AstraZeneca in April.
Remarking on the prosecution of individuals, West noted the recent indictment of a former GlaxoSmithKline in-house attorney, Lauren Stevens, who is charged in Maryland federal district court with, among other things, making false statements to federal regulators.
“We’re going to hold both companies and individuals accountable when it comes to health care fraud and fraud generally,” West said.