Two whistleblowers, a doctor and nurse in Atlanta, could receive more than $110 million for exposing alleged fraud by DaVita Healthcare Partners, the largest dialysis provider in the country. According to their lawsuit, the company intentionally wasted drugs in order to receive reimbursements from the federal government. Before 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimbursed dialysis providers for drug wastage from single-use vials. The whistleblowers alleged that DaVita instructed staff to use unnecessarily large vials of the vitamin D supplement Zemplar and the iron drug Vanofer. The scheme allegedly cost taxpayers hundreds of millions.
According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release dated June 24th, DaVita paid $450 million to resolve the allegations. The release noted that DaVita reduced its wastage substantially after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services changed its reimbursement policy in 2011 and “wastage derived from single-use vials was no longer profitable “
The whistleblowers’ efforts were praised in the announcement. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said “This settlement is an example of what can be accomplished as a result of the successful cooperation between the government and whistleblowers in protecting our vital federal health care programs,” according to the release.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia stated that “Through personal sacrifice and courage, two whistleblowers exposed knowingly wasteful dosing practices designed simply to increase profits and improperly drain the government’s resources,”