CINCINNATI (Legal Newsline) – In a notice written to the U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio, Western Division on Sept. 6, the U.S. government declined the option to intervene in a False Claims Act lawsuit filed on its behalf.
The decision came after a group of whistleblowers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the United States, alleging false claims against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
In cases in which whistleblowers bring a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government, the U.S. government has the option to intervene or decline, as in this case.
Although the U.S. declined to intervene, it said it allows the relators to maintain the action in the name of the United States; providing, however, that the "'action may be dismissed only if the United States gives written consent to the dismissal and their reasons for consenting,'" the notice states.
Relators Jeremy W. Briggs, Joseph B. Lawrence and Marc Young filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Western Division on Jan. 18. The complaint was unsealed Sept. 14.
Briggs is a pharmacist with more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, while Lawrence has more than 20 years' experience in pharmacy and Young is a clinical pharmaceutical expertise.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are looking to recover damages and civil penalties arising from alleged false or fraudulent statements, records and claims made by Mylan.
Mylan is a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor located in Morgantown, West Virginia, the lawsuit states.
“Mylan falsely represented and/or certified the country of origin for pharmaceutical products as being from Trade Agreements Act designated countries in order to obtain United States Government contracts and knowingly sold or caused the sale of non-TAA compliant pharmaceutical products to the United States,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs allege that Mylan has been involved in the fraud scheme since at least July 15, 2014, and continues to do so.
According to the lawsuit, Mylan carried out the scheme across the U.S. by "fraudulently bidding on and accepting orders on national government contracts for the delivery of pharmaceutical products to pharmaceutical prime vendors for distribution to various governmental participants in the U.S."
The Trade Agreements Act requires that certain products procured by the U.S. must have specified designated countries as their country of origin, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, the False Claims Act imposes liability on any person who “knowingly presents or causes to be presented, a false fraudulent claim for payment or approval.”
The lawsuit adds that the FCA also imposes liability on any person who “knowingly makes, uses or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim.”
The plaintiffs asked for the court to enter judgement “in an amount equal to three times the amount of damages sustained by the US because of Mylan’s acts in violation of the False Claims Act, plus the maximum civil penalty for each violation of the False Claims Act.”
The plaintiffs also asked for reasonable expenses incurred, plus attorneys' fees and costs.
“That in the event the United States intervenes, that relators be awarded 25 percent of the proceeds of the action or of any settlement,” the lawsuit added. “In the event the U.S. doesn’t intervene, the relators be awarded 30 percent of the proceeds of the action or of any settlement.”