The United States Government, along with the governments of 15 states and the District of Columbia, have joined with two whistleblowers who allege that drug manufacturer Wyeth bilked US taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars. As reported in the Wall Street Journal and the FierceHealthcare website, Wyeth is accused of overcharging Medicare and Medicaid programs nationwide for purchases of it’s acid-reflux drug Protonix. Under federal law, drug companies are required to offer prescriptions to federal aid programs at the lowest possible price. Wyeth, however, the suit alleges, was offering Protonix at a 90% discount to private hospitals, while charging the federal government much higher rates.
The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which has its roots in the civil war era, and remains the United States’ most powerful tool for rooting out fraudulent government contracts. President Obama’s administration has recently expressed its support for strengthening the law, and legislation to do so is currently pending in Congress.