On December 22, 2014, the U.S. Justice Department filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against Omnicare for soliciting and receiving tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks from Abbot Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote, between 1998 and 2008. Omnicare is the nation’s largest long term care pharmacy and supplier of pharmacy consulting services to nursing homes.
The DOJ alleges that Omnicare collected kickbacks from Abbott in exchange for purchasing and recommending Depakote, an anti-seizure medication, to be used to control the behaviors of nursing home residents with dementia in facilities served by Omnicare. Depakote is commonly used in many nursing homes and assisted living facilities to chemically restrain residents who have dementia.
In the DOJ’s press release on this action, Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda expressed concern that “elderly nursing home residents suffering from dementia are among our nation’s most vulnerable patient populations, and they depend on the independent judgment of healthcare professionals for their daily care. Kickbacks to consulting pharmacists compromise their independence and undermine their role in protecting nursing home residents from the use of unnecessary drugs.”
Omnicare and Abbot are repeat offenders. The DOJ has prosecuted prior cases against both companies `and collected large settlements due to practices that promoted misuse of drugs that endangered nursing home residents with dementia.