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The Minnesota Department of Human Service’s Office of Inspector General announced today the recovery of $9 million from Abbott Laboratories as part of a national health care fraud settlement involving the drug Depakote. This recovery brings the total amount recovered thus far in 2012 by DHS’ Office of Inspector General to $30 million.
The DHS Office of Inspector General was created in August 2011 by Commissioner Lucinda Jesson to investigate and root out fraud, waste and abuse. It is led by Inspector General Jerry Kerber, and is comprised of an investigations and a licensing division. It is involved in several multi-jurisdictional task forces across federal, state and local governments.
“Fraud hurts all of us,” said Kerber. “Minnesotans deserve to know that their public health care dollars are going for care to our fellow Minnesotans, not lining the pockets of irresponsible pharmaceutical companies.”
Half of all Medicaid fraud recoveries by the Office of Inspector General are returned to the state’s General Fund. The other half goes to the federal government.
The settlement with Abbott Laboratories comes after it pled guilty to illegally marketing Depakote for uses that were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective. This resulted in false claims to Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded health care programs.
Depakote is approved by the FDA to treat seizures and mania associated with bipolar disorder and to prevent migraines; however Abbott promoted its use for the control of agitation and aggression in patients experiencing dementia, uses for which it was not approved by the FDA. Specifically, Abbott pled guilty to maintaining a specialized sales force to market Depakote for off-label purposes, targeting elderly dementia patients in nursing homes.