Walgreens pays $50 million to settle claim it violated anti-kickback law. whistleblower gets $9.7 million

Companies, including pharmacies and their parent entities are frequently trying to find ways to attract the buying public to purchase their pharma products rather than from their competition. However, the law does not allow beneficiaries of government health insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid or TriCare to receive anything of value in return for their business. Such payments of money or anything of value violates the federal anti-kickback statutes. In one case this year, Walgreen’s agreed to pay $50 million to the government and states to settle allegations that it illegally gave discounts to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to encourage them to fill their prescriptions at Walgreen’s.

Interestingly, Walgreens knew it could not allow beneficiaries of government health insurance programs into its Prescription Savings Club, as it published materials saying they were ineligible. Despite this, Walgreens marketed the program to them paying employees $1 to $5 for each customer enrolled.

As part of the settlement agreement in the case, Walgreen’s admitted it enrolled people in government health insurance programs into the discount club. This was a whistleblower case taken by Marc Baker, a former Florida Walgreens pharmacy manager who brought he suit in 212 and which settled this year. Baker eceived $9.7 million according to the settlement agreement.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers. He did not represents Mr. Banker of this case.