Yates Memo Watch – The First Casualty

October 29, 2015

Counting blackboardThe Department of Justice today unsealed the indictment of the former president of Warner Chilcott plc, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. A subsidiary of Warner Chilcott pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of health care fraud related to illegal marketing of certain drugs. The company also agreed to pay $125 million to resolve its criminal and civil liability. (H/T Law360.)

The executive’s indictment can be found here.

DOJ touts this indictment as part of its new policy contained in the Yates Memo. You can read about the Yates Memo here. According to DOJ’s press release about the executive’s indictment:

“The Justice Department is committed to protecting the integrity of physician prescribing decisions and ensuring that financial arrangements in the healthcare marketplace comply with the law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department will continue to hold companies and responsible individuals accountable when they use improper incentives, like those alleged here, to promote their products.”

“Doctors’ medical judgment should be based on what is best for the patient, and not clouded by expensive meals and other pharmaceutical company kickbacks,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz for the District of Massachusetts.  “Pharmaceutical company executives and employees should not be involved with treatment decisions or submissions to a patient’s insurance company.  Today’s enforcement actions demonstrate that the government will seek not only to hold companies accountable, but will identify and charge corporate officials responsible for the fraud.

I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep up with the trend, but I’ll try to track the individual prosecutions of corporate executives that appear to fall within the Yates Memo. Of course, it’s hard to tell from an indictment whether the information in it came from the company or from the FBI’s independent investigation. Feel free to send me any indictments that fit into this category.

That said, it seems a safe bet that when (1) a company pays a large fine, averts criminal prosecution entirely or pleads to a single count, and then (2) DOJ charges an executive at the company, that executive has fallen victim to the Yates Memo.

[Note that a subsidiary of Warner Chilcott actually pleaded guilty. That may be because the sub is the true wrongdoer, or it may be because companies can often work out a deal to have a sub take the hit rather than the parent company. This can be helpful in many contexts. But in health care fraud–where exclusion from Medicare is a real concern–it can be a lifesaver.]

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