Sarasota, Florida compounding pharmacy to pay at least $775,000 to resolve whistleblower’s False Claims Act allegations

by Ben Vernia | February 18th, 2019

On February 14, the Department of Justice announced that a Sarasota, Florida compounding pharmacy and its owners will pay a minimum of $775,000 under a structured settlement to resolve a whistleblower’s allegations that the pharmacy violated the Medicare Antikickback Statute. According to DOJ’s press release

The Department of Justice announced today that Vital Life Institute LLC (formerly known as AgeVital Pharmacy LLC), located in Sarasota, Florida, and owners Jenny and William Wilkins have agreed to pay at least $775,000 to resolve claims that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in an illegal kickback scheme to induce the referral of compounded drug prescriptions for TRICARE and Medicare beneficiaries.  AgeVital and the Wilkinses have agreed to pay additional amounts in the event certain contingencies are triggered.

The settlement resolves allegations that AgeVital, at the direction of the Wilkinses, paid kickbacks to a third-party marketing company to solicit prospective patients for compounded drug prescriptions regardless of patient need.  The marketing company arranged for prescribers to sign those prescriptions, which were then referred to AgeVital to be filled.  The kickbacks to the marketing entity allegedly consisted of a substantial share of the pharmacy’s TRICARE and Medicare reimbursements.  The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, the knowing and willful payment of any remuneration to induce the referral of services or items that are paid for by a federal health care program.  Claims submitted to federal health care programs in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute can subject the violator to liability under the False Claims Act.

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The whistleblower was an unwitting customer of the pharmacy, who filed his complaint after receiving unwanted drugs. He will receive at least $139,550 of the settlement proceeds (an 18% relator’s share).


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