Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: False Claims, Doctor Charged

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

05/15/2018

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U.S. joins whistleblower case against Insys over kickbacks

The U.S. Department of Justice has joined whistleblower litigation accusing Insys Therapeutics Inc of trying to generate more profit by paying kickbacks to doctors to prescribe powerful opioid medications.

The government’s involvement was disclosed in a filing made public on Monday. It adds firepower to the civil litigation as Insys tries to resolve a federal probe into its marketing of Subsys, a spray form of fentanyl.

Six U.S. states - California, Colorado, Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Virginia - also joined whistleblower litigation against Insys, according to the filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The litigation comes amid a wave of related criminal cases against medical practitioners, and former executives and sales representatives employed by Insys, including its billionaire founder John Kapoor.

In a separate filing, the Justice Department asked that the litigation be put on hold until the criminal cases were resolved.

Chandler, Arizona-based Insys had no immediate comment. Its shares closed up 7.6 percent at $7.36 on the Nasdaq.

Subsys is an under-the-tongue spray approved to treat severe pain in cancer patients who are already receiving and tolerant to around-the-clock opioid therapy.

The U.S. government accused Insys of having since 2012 offered “sham” speaking fees and lavish meals to induce doctors to prescribe Subsys.

It also said Insys knowingly caused Medicare and other federal health care programs to pay for Subsys by encouraging doctors to prescribe it when it was not medically necessary, or by misrepresenting patients’ diagnoses.

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, played a role in a record 42,249 U.S. deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  read more »

Brazil’s war on graft replaces costly gifts as the new soft power

Investigations by judiciary set benchmark for fighting corruption

There are few better symbols of Brazil’s influence in Latin America — what it was, is and may become — than Lima’s 37m-high statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Seven years ago, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht donated $800,000 to install the Peruvian version of Rio de Janeiro’s famed statue. Hewn from white stone, and with outstretched arms, it marked a high point of Brazil’s regional influence, global ambition and colour-blind approach to international relations.

Today, the statue, officially called the “Christ of the Pacific”, is known locally as the “Christ of Theft”. Odebrecht is in disgrace for being at the centre of a web of corruption — the Lava Jato, or “Car Wash” scandal — that the US Department of Justice has called the world’s biggest bribery scheme. read more »

South Texas Doctor Charged with $240 Million Health Care Fraud and International Money Laundering Scheme

A physician based in the McAllen, Texas area was charged in an indictment unsealed today for his role in a $240 million health care fraud and international money laundering scheme. 

Jorge Zamora-Quezada, 61, of Mission, Texas, was charged in a seven-count indictment.

“Jorge Zamora-Quezada allegedly orchestrated a massive fraud scheme that jeopardized the health and wellbeing of innocent children, elderly, and disabled victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “The allegations that Zamora-Quezada violated his oath to do no harm by administering unnecessary chemotherapy and other toxic medications to patients with serious diseases — including some of the most vulnerable victims imaginable — are almost beyond comprehension.  The Criminal Division is committed to combatting health care fraud and protecting victims of reprehensible schemes like the one alleged in this case.”  read more »

Canadian Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy And To Making A False Claim Against The United States

A Canadian man pleaded guilty today in Rochester, New York to conspiring to defraud the United States and making a false claim against the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. for the Western District of New York.

According to documents filed with the court and evidence introduced at a related trial, Daveanan Sookdeo, 46, formerly of Ontario, Canada, along with other Canadian citizens, conspired to defraud the United States by filing fraudulent claims for income tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Sookdeo promoted a scheme that involved the falsifying of IRS forms to claim that almost $10 million in income had been withheld by various Canadian financial institutions on the conspirators’ behalf.  Based on those bogus withholdings, the conspirators sought refunds from the IRS.

Sookdeo profited from the scheme by charging his coconspirators an upfront fee for the false documents used in the scheme, as well as a percentage of any tax refunds obtained through the scheme.  read more »