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Respironics to Pay $34.8 Million to Settle Sleep Apnea Mask Kickback ClaimsMarch 24, 2016

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Respironics, Inc., a company that manufactures breathing masks for people with sleep apnea, has agreed to pay $34.8 million to resolve alleged False Claims Act violations for paying kickbacks to suppliers that sold its products.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by whistleblower Dr. Gibran Ameer, a South Carolina pharmacist who worked as an executive at one of the medical supply companies solicited by Respironics. The Justice Department, 29 states and the District of Columbia joined the lawsuit. Ameer, who was represented by Andrew G. Melling, Celeste T. Jones and A. Victor Rawl, Jr. of McNair Law Firm, P.A., will receive nearly $5.4 million in the settlement.

“McNair has represented health care providers accused of false claims act violations, as well as relators working with the U.S. government to bring an end to fraudulent conduct,” said litigator Andrew Melling.  “Health care decisions should be based, first and foremost, on what is in the best interest of the patients.”

The United States alleged that Respironics violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act by providing free services to durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers to induce them to purchase Respironics masks used in the treatment of sleep apnea.  Respironics allegedly provided DME companies with free call center services to meet their patients’ resupply needs, as long as the patients were using masks that Respironics manufactured; otherwise, the DME companies would have to pay a monthly fee based on the number of patients who used masks manufactured by competitors of Respironics.  The government alleged that the conduct began in April 2012 and continued until November 2015.

To read the release issued by the Department of Justice, click here.

To read Law360’s coverage, click here (subscription required).