There are some basic rules for medical product liability litigation, at least as we—and the vast majority of courts—see it.  One is that the manufacturer of the medical product that the plaintiff used and allegedly injured her is typically the right defendant.  Part of what a potential plaintiff is supposed to do during the statute

Today’s post discusses a recent implied-preemption decision that is relevant beyond the generic-drug context in which it arose.

A bit of background first.

In Buckman Company v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee, 531 U.S. 341 (2001), the Supreme Court held that 21 U.S.C. § 337(a)—which declares that all actions to enforce the FDCA “shall be by

If there has been one regulatory constant over the years, it has been the FDA’s persistent position that off-label promotion is bad and that companies that engage in it are acting illegally.  Since we first encountered this agency attitude as relatively young lawyers in the 1990s, we’ve thought that this position was unconstitutional under the

It took us a long time to understand how off-label promotion of prescription drugs had anything to do with the False Claims Act, and we’re still not so sure that the two are a fit. The FCA penalizes anyone who presents, or causes to be presented, to the federal government “a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.”  31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1).  Easy, right?  As we explained just last month in this quick primer on the FCA, Congress enacted the FCA after the Civil War to curb abuses in government procurement.  That part we get.  If you sell the Army 1,000 horses and send them a bill for 2,000 horses, that’s a false claim.

We’re writing about this today because the First Circuit issued an opinion last month that comes to the correct result and also illustrates how FCA claims are alleged in connection with off-label promotion—and how they fail. In Lawton v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co., No. 16-1382, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20943 (11th Cir. Nov. 22, 2016), a patent lawyer filed a qui tam action against the manufacturer of a prescription diabetes medication.  He did not actually use the medication, nor did he buy or sell it.  So what did he allege?  He alleged that the manufacturer engaged in an elaborate scheme to promote the drug for un-approved uses—off-label promotion—and that the manufacturer thereby induced medical providers to make allegedly false claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid. Id. at **4-7.

It’s a two-step process. The manufacturer did not itself make a false claim, but rather engaged in alleged conduct that induced someone else to make a claim, whether the claimant knew it was false or not.  The problem for the plaintiff (or more accurately, the “relator”) is that he alleged neither falseness nor a claim.  We call that a double whammy.  Or maybe it’s a double fault.


Continue Reading This Is How A False Claims Act Case Works—And Fails