McKesson to Pay $18 Million in Whistleblower Lawsuit By Tod Aronovitz | 08/19/14 | 0 Comment

McKesson Corporation, a pharmaceutical distributor headquartered in San Francisco, agreed to settle allegations that it improperly set temperature monitors—when shipping and handling vaccinations—as part of its contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Justice Department announced.

The $18 million settlement resolved claims against the company originally filed in a whistleblower lawsuit by Terrell Fox, a former finance director at McKesson Specialty Distribution LLC, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. Fox’s share of the settlement has yet to be determined.

According to the government, as part of McKesson’s contractual obligation to provide distribution services, receive vaccines purchased by the government from manufacturers, and then distribute the vaccines to health care providers, the company was required to make sure that vaccines were maintained at proper temperatures during shipping and handling. To determine proper temperatures, the company used electronic temperature monitors that were gauged to detect when the air temperature in the box reached eight degrees Celsius and above, or fell to two degrees Celsius and below.

From April to November 2007, McKesson supposedly failed to set these monitors correctly, the government contended. As a result, the company knowingly submitted false claims to the CDC for shipping and handling services that did not meet contractual obligations, according to the whistleblower lawsuit.

“Companies must comply with the requirements they agree to when they contract with the government to provide products that protect the public,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “If a contractor does not adhere to the terms it negotiated, its conduct not only hurts taxpayers but also could jeopardize the integrity of products, like vaccines, that Americans count on to be safe.”

According to the CDC, additional and redundant measures were and are used to ensure that vaccines are kept at appropriate temperatures during shipping. The most important of these were validated packing procedures used to maintain proper vaccine temperatures. The temperature monitors at issue in this case provided a back-up safeguard. For more information about vaccine storage and handling, please visit the CDC website.

The Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee handled the whistleblower lawsuit case with assistance from HHS-OIG and Office of General Counsel.

How to Report Medicare Fraud

Healthcare professionals or medical billing employees who have knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect up to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami Qui Tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss your case.