The U.S. Department of Justice announced on February 14, 2019 that Vital Life Institute LLC (formerly known as AgeVital Pharmacy LLC), located in Sarasota, Florida, and its two owners, have agreed to pay at least $775,000 to resolve claims that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in an illegal kickback scheme to induce the referral of compounded drug prescriptions for TRICARE and Medicare beneficiaries. AgeVital and the owners also agreed to pay additional amounts in the event certain contingencies are triggered.
The government alleged that AgeVital, at the direction of its owners, paid kickbacks to a third-party marketing company to solicit prospective patients for compounded drug prescriptions regardless of patient need. The marketing company arranged for prescribers to sign those prescriptions, which were then referred to AgeVital to be filled. The kickbacks to the marketing entity allegedly consisted of a substantial share of the pharmacy’s TRICARE and Medicare reimbursements. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, the knowing and willful payment of any remuneration to induce the referral of services or items that are paid for by a federal health care program. Claims submitted to federal health care programs in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute can subject the violator to liability under the False Claims Act.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tampa, Florida, by a patient who allegedly received unwanted compounded medications from AgeVital that were billed to Medicare. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The Act permits private parties to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States for false claims and to share in any recovery. The whistleblower will receive at least $139,500 of the settlement.
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Knopf v. AgeVital Pharmacy, LLC et al., Case No. 8:15-cv-2591-T-36JSS (M.D. Fla.).
If you have information regarding false claims having been submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, other federal health care programs, or to other federal agencies/programs, and the information is not publically known and no actions have been taken by the government with regard to recovering the false claims, you should promptly consult with a False Claims Act attorney (also known as qui tam attorneys) in your U.S. state who may investigate the basis of your False Claims Act allegations and who may also assist you in bringing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the United States, if appropriate, for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the recovery received by the U.S. government.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find qui tam lawyers who may handle your False Claims Act matter on a contingency basis.
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