$109 Million Settlement with sanofi-aventis in False Claims Act Case Brought by Ellis & Rapacki LLP

Dec 19, 2012, 16:26 ET from Ellis & Rapacki LLP

BOSTON, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A whistleblower represented by the Boston law firm Ellis & Rapacki LLP has been awarded over $18.5 million for his role in pursuing a False Claims Act case against sanofi-aventis U.S., Inc., now Sanofi US Services Inc., and sanofi-aventis U.S., LLC (together, "Sanofi US"), that resulted in a payment of $109 million to the federal and state governments.  The False Claims Act case, filed in January 2010, alleged that, during the period from 2005 to 2009, Sanofi US engaged in a nationwide practice of using "free samples" of its pharmaceutical product Hyalgan to improperly induce physicians to buy the product and to unlawfully bill Medicare and Medicaid and other federally funded health care programs.  Hyalgan (Sodium Hyaluronate Injection) is a viscous solution that is extracted from rooster combs, which is injected directly into a patient's knee to relieve osteoarthritis pain.  To settle the whistleblower's allegations, Sanofi US has agreed to pay a total of $109 million to the United States and certain states, including Massachusetts.  This settlement is the latest of a string of large False Claims Act settlements in 2012.  Fiscal year 2012 already is a record year for False Claims Act recoveries.

"This case demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of whistleblowers in putting an end to fraud and putting money back into taxpayer-funded programs.  The fraud committed by Sanofi US contributed to the spiraling costs incurred by Medicare and Medicaid, and as a result of this settlement, those health care programs can now be reimbursed," said Joseph Makalusky, lead counsel for the whistleblower.  "My client and I also want to thank Assistant US Attorney Gregg Shapiro and DOJ Attorney Doug Rosenthal, in particular, for their tireless efforts in helping to bring this case to a successful resolution."

About the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act is a federal law that authorizes private citizens to bring cases on behalf of the federal government against those who defraud the federal government.  These whistleblower or qui tam actions are perhaps the most effective tool that the federal government has in combating fraud and returning ill-gotten gains to the public fisc.  The United States Department of Justice recently announced that it secured nearly $5 billion in False Claims Act cases in fiscal year 2012.  The whistleblowers (also known as relators) are entitled to recover between 15 and 30 percent of the proceeds recovered in their False Claim Act cases.

On the state level, thirty states, including Massachusetts, have enacted similar qui tam statutes that enable private citizens to bring cases on behalf of the respective state against those who defraud the state.

For more information about the False Claims Act and the Massachusetts False Claims Act, please see, Blowing the Whistle on the Need to Clarify and Correct the Massachusetts False Claims Act, 94 Mass. Law Rev. 41 (March 2012), available at www.massbar.org/publications/massachusetts-law-review/2012/vol-94-no-2.

About Ellis & Rapacki LLP
Ellis & Rapacki LLP is a Boston law firm that represents whistleblowers in qui tam actions throughout the country.  With more than 75 years of combined experience, our attorneys are committed to providing clients with the highest quality legal service in a timely and cost-effective manner.  For more information about the firm, please visit www.ellisandrapacki.com

SOURCE Ellis & Rapacki LLP