07 February 2012

Justice Department Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Key Amendments to the False Claims Act

Posted by Patrick E. Kennell III and Ellyce R. Cooper

On January 31, 2012, the Department of Justice celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Amendments to the False Claims Act with speeches by Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, and Members of Congress. The celebration also included a panel discussion entitled “$30 Billion, 25 Years: The False Claims Act in Review.” The DOJ used the occasion to celebrate its recent accomplishments and to describe its future enforcement efforts.

In press releases sent out to mark the occasion, the DOJ noted the following successes:

  • “Since [the 1986] changes were enacted, the Justice Department has recovered more than $30 billion under the act.”1
  • “Since January 2009, the department has recovered $8.8 billion under the False Claims Act – the largest three-year total in the Justice Department’s history, and 28 percent of all recoveries since the False Claims Act was amended in 1986.”2
  • $6.6 billion of the amounts recovered since January 2009 have been from healthcare fraud recoveries.3
  • “[F]or every dollar Congress has provided for healthcare enforcement over the past three years, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have recovered nearly seven.”4
  • “In FY 2011 alone, the Department of Justice secured more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud against the government.”5
  • “Whistleblowers have filed nearly 8,000 actions – including a record high of 638 in the past year alone.”6

The DOJ also noted a series of key settlements including:

  • $2.3 billion – Pfizer Inc. (2010);
  • $1.7 billion – Columbia/HCA I & II (2000 and 2003);
  • $1.415 billion – Eli Lilly and Company (2009);
  • $950 million – Merck Sharp & Dohme (2011);
  • $923 million – Tenet Healthcare Corporation (2006);
  • $875 million – TAP Pharmaceuticals (2002);
  • $750 million – GlaxoSmithKline (2010);
  • $704 million – Serono, S.A. (2005).
  • $650 million – Merck (2008); and
  • $634 million – Purdue Pharma (2007).7

In his speech, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the DOJ is committed to “aggressively utilizing” the FCA to combat fraud and that the past successes of the DOJ “represent[] a wide-ranging effort to eradicate the scourge of fraud from some of government’s most critical programs.”8 Attorney General Holder also noted that “in these challenging economic times” the DOJ’s mandate to “aggressively pursue those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens – has never been more clear or more urgent.”9 Finally, Attorney General Holder stated that “the strength of our resolve is equal to the breadth of our mandate.”10 Likewise, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Tony West indicated that “Attorney General Eric Holder, has made fighting fraud – particularly healthcare fraud – a top priority.”11

It is clear from the remarks at this celebration that the recent increase in civil and criminal FCA actions will continue for the foreseeable future.12 It also remains evident that the healthcare sector continues to be a focus of the DOJ’s enforcement efforts, although it also continues to pursue other industries. The increase of whistleblower FCA cases during this past year also evidences the increased awareness of the FCA by employees of companies that deal with government funding in some way. Corporations and individuals should continue to have extensive compliance programs in place to ensure that the DOJ does not target them as part of the DOJ’s “aggressive[] pursu[it]” of government fraud related actions using the DOJ’s broad mandate.


1 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Justice Department Celebrates 25th Anniversary of False Claims Act Amendments of 1986 (Jan. 31, 2012), available at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-ag-142.html.

2 Id.

3 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the 25th Anniversary of the False Claims Act Amendments of 1986 (Jan. 31, 2012), available at http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/civil/speeches/2012/civ-speech-120131.html.

4 Id.

5 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Justice Department Celebrates 25th Anniversary of False Claims Act Amendments of 1986 .

6 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the 25th Anniversary of the False Claims Act Amendments of 1986 (Jan. 31, 2012), available at http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/ag/speeches/2012/ag-speech-120131.html.

7 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Justice Department Celebrates 25th Anniversary of False Claims Act Amendments of 1986.

8 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the 25th Anniversary of the False Claims Act Amendments of 1986.

9 Id.

10 Id.

11 Press Release, United States Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the 25th Anniversary of the False Claims Act Amendments of 1986.

12 For a detailed accounting of DOJ Fraud Statistics, see Department of Justice, Fraud Statistics Overview (Dec. 7, 2011, 2:47 PM), http://www.justice.gov/civil/docs_forms/C-FRAUDS_FCA_Statistics.pdf.

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