Olympus Corporation agreed to pay $306 million to the U.S. government and a coalition of states to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by a whistleblower who accused the company of paying illegal kickbacks to health care providers to boost its sales.
The complaint alleged that between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2011, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, a subsidiary of Olympus Corporation of Japan, illegally used financial incentives to coax doctors and hospital executives to buy a range of Olympus-manufactured endoscopes and other surgical equipment.
According to the lawsuit, Olympus effectively bribed medical decision-makers into buying its products with grants, fellowships, consultancy payments, free trips, and interest-free loans for equipment, among other illegal kickbacks.
In addition to the federal government, the governments of California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Indiana, New York, and Virginia joined the False Claims Act lawsuit, alleging Olympus’ illegal kickback scheme undermined state Medicaid programs and patient care.
“If you are a company that prioritizes profits over patients, we will hold you accountable,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who helped prosecute the case. “Health care providers cannot make decisions that are swayed by illegal kickbacks, and we are committed to ensuring that Medicaid recipients are receiving the best care possible.”
Mr. Schneiderman said he would like to thank John Slowick, the whistleblower who suspected Olympus of engaging in an unlawful kickback scheme and chose to sue the company on behalf of the U.S. government. Mr. Slowick will receive between 15 and 30 percent of the $306-million recovery as his award for bringing the False Claims Act suit.
Source: New York Attorney General