WASHINGTON — Ven-A-Care, the tiny South Florida pharmacy that built a profitable business blowing the whistle on drug companies that overcharge the government, won a signal victory Tuesday.
For the first time, one of the companies it reported to authorities had taken the case to court last month. And on Tuesday, a Texas jury ordered the company, an Icelandic pharmaceuticals company called Actavis, to pay $170 million for cheating the state's Medicaid program.
That not only means the whistle-blower, Ven-A-Care of the Florida Keys, which was profiled in a story that ran in the Times Sunday Business section, is in line to get several million dollars in reward money, but it also means the company's remarkable whistle-blowing winning streak continues.
The court case was brought by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on the basis of evidence supplied by Ven-A-Care.
In 18 previous cases involving schemes to defraud Medicare and Medicaid, companies charged on the basis of Ven-A-Care information have agreed to settlements instead of going to trial.
Those settlements produced at least $2.2 billion for state and federal governments and at least $380 million in whistle-blower fees for the four partners involved in Ven-A-Care's litigation.