Tattletale pharmacy blows whistle on pharma fraud

When you hear the word whistleblower, what do you imagine? A lone employee accusing Big Pharma of breaking the law? Actually, the Los Angeles Times reports today, one of the most successful whistleblowers of recent years hasn't been an employee at all. It's a pharmacy.

This is still a David-and-Goliath tale. The pharmacy isn't one of the big chains, but Ven-A-Care, a Florida shop. And Ven-A-Care seems to see whistleblowing as its primary business, not a sideline. The lion's share of its revenue comes from pharma settlements--roughly $168 million last December alone, the LAT points out.

Ven-A-Care pores over drug-pricing data, looking for major discrepancies between the prices it paid for drugs with the prices drugmakers report to the federal government. When it finds big differences, it sues. Since 2000, Ven-A-Care has won 18 fraud suits, and its share of those settlements amounted to about $380 million. States and the feds reaped $2.2 billion.

"I think Ven-A-Care has played a key role and possibly the predominant role in alerting state and federal governments about ... fraud," Nicholas Paul, a supervising deputy attorney general for the state of California, told the Times. The lesson for drugmakers? Whistleblowers might be anywhere.

- read the LAT piece

ALSO: The government recaptured a record $4 billion last year from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other providers of care that defrauded federal health-care programs, the Obama administration said. Report