March 28, 2016
Olympus Corporation of the Americas, the United States’ largest distributor of endoscopes and related medical equipment, recently agreed to pay $623.2 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims, according to a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) press release on March 1, 2016. The settlement is a result of a qui tam action alleging violations of the Federal False Claims Act (FCA), Federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), and analogous state statutes for paying kickbacks to physicians and hospitals to induce the purchase of Olympus medical and surgical equipment. Olympus was required to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement and a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that, among other things, includes an executive financial recoupment program that will cause company executives to forfeit certain compensation if they are associated with future misconduct.

The relator and government alleged that, because the Olympus equipment used for treatment was purchased as a result of a kickback, Olympus caused the physicians and hospitals to file false claims for treatment under Medicare, TRICARE, and Medicaid in violation of the FCA and state law. The kickbacks themselves were prohibited under the AKS. Both federal laws have separate penalties that were combined in this settlement, which is a reminder to the health care industry that liability under the FCA and AKS can reach staggering amounts.

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