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Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at Press Conference Regarding Settlement with Abbott Laboratories


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Jim, for that introduction. And thank you for your unwavering leadership in the Department’s efforts to fight fraud in all of its forms.

I am pleased to also share the stage today with our federal and state partners in this case; the relationship between all involved in this matter has been the model of cooperation and teamwork.

The resolution we are announcing today is an example of our multi-faceted approach to fighting health care fraud. U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy will describe for you in a moment some of the specific provisions of the criminal plea and civil settlement agreements in this case.

Some are new and innovative. All are important. And we believe the heath care industry will take note of them.

These agreements provide an example of the kind of resolution we will seek from companies that misguidedly put profits over patients.

We will demand accountability; we will emphasize deterrence; we will work with the many responsible health care industry participants to encourage a culture of compliance; and we will be creative when negotiating resolutions of illegal behavior by, among other things, insisting on non-monetary measures that give companies the tools to build and maintain real change – tools that allow them to reduce recidivism and prevent and deter violations in the future.

And today’s announcement is part of that effort. Abbott Laboratories’ guilty plea to a criminal misbranding charge, coupled with its agreement to pay $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability for unlawful marketing of Depakote, is the latest in an important line of recent health care fraud enforcement actions.

When you look at the largest top 10 pharmaceutical health care fraud recoveries in history, six of them were achieved in the last three and a half years.

We’ve opened more health care fraud investigations, charged more criminal health care fraud defendants and obtained more money on behalf of the public in those last three and a half years than ever before.

And for every dollar that Congress has provided for health care fraud enforcement over the past three years, we have recovered nearly seven. As the Deputy Attorney General mentioned, that totals over $8.8 billion in health care fraud settlements, judgments, penalties and fines since the formation of HEAT in May 2009—more money recovered for American taxpayers than in any comparable time period in history.

The Abbott case is just one of a number of significant actions we have announced thus far in 2012.

Last month, for example, Merck was sentenced in connection with the unlawful promotion of Vioxx, and will pay more than $950 million to resolve the government’s civil and criminal claims.

And just a few weeks ago, Gary Osborn and his company, ApotheCure, Inc., pled guilty to violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for their shipment of a misbranded drug that led to the deaths of three people – a case that demonstrates that the Department will take action against responsible corporate officers who fail to control the quality of their products.

Today’s resolution is the result of the dedicated work of attorneys, investigators, and support staff from the Justice Department’s Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Virginia, as well as the tireless efforts of HHS and the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, as well as the efforts of other states.

Let me also add a personal note of thanks to someone whose advocacy and leadership helped to shepherd this case throughout the process and whose public service career was dedicated to fighting fraud on the American taxpayer: Mike Hertz, the Civil Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General, who passed away on Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. We’ll miss Mike’s counsel and his friendship.

Now it’s my pleasure to introduce Tim Heaphy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

Updated September 17, 2014