Oftentimes, medical device companies will tout the longevity and reliability of their products. To further seal the deal, companies will tag on an extensive warranty, promising generous credits and rebates should their devices need repair or replacement. However, if a company inappropriately skirts its obligations under these warranties, it could run afoul of the federal False Claims Act when government health care dollars are involved.
This alleged business practice emerged in a recently settled False Claims Act action against Guidant LLC, a subsidiary of Boston Scientific Corporation. In this intervened qui tam suit, which settled for $9.25 million, the company allegedly inflated the cost of replacement pacemakers and defibrillators to federal health care programs by knowingly failing to grant warranty credits and rebates to hospitals for devices that were explanted while covered under a product warranty.
According to the government, Guidant’s misactions were evidenced in inflated invoices that failed to include appropriate credits and rebates for replacement pacemakers and defibrillators. These invoices were submitted to Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and Department of Defense facilities. In addition, inflated invoices were allegedly submitted to private hospitals, which caused these facilities to overstate the cost of these devices on Medicare cost reports.
At its core, this is just another variation of a century-old False Claims Act theme of overcharging the federal government. However, because these misdeeds are easily obscured behind corporate walls, the qui tam litigation process offers substantial rewards to employees who successfully tear down these walls and expose companies who knowingly turn a blind eye to product warranties.
For more information about qui tam law and healthcare fraud, contact Nolan & Auerbach, P.A.