Recent gatherings of False Claims Act attorneys —who represent whistleblowers, the government, and the defense — revealed a consensus that medical devices offer fertile ground for future whistleblower activity. Medical device fraud can take at least three forms and may arise for durable medical equipment as well.
- First, defective medical devices, sold in connection with Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, may lead to FCA liability. On this point, manufacturer quality management systems, supplier controls and monitoring, attention to customer complaints, and corrective measures are all key issues that may impact FCA liability. Medical devices that are not safe, effective, and reliable create FCA risk for their manufacturers.
- Second, off-label promotion of medical devices brings up issues similar to off-label pharmaceutical promotions. FCA approval of devices should guide marketing. If marketing goes off-label, there may be FCA liability.
- Third, kickbacks paid to medical professionals in connection with medical device sales would trigger FCA liability.
Federal government spending on health care is ever-growing. The government frauds in this area, along with qui tam activity, are expected to increase as well.