April 9, 2015 / 6:26 PM / 4 years ago

Two U.S. labs to pay $48.5 million to settle unnecessary testing claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. cardiovascular disease testing laboratories Health Diagnostics Laboratory Inc (HDL) and Singulex Inc have agreed to pay $48.5 million to settle claims they paid kickbacks and conducted unnecessary testing, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

HDL will pay $47 million and Singulex $1.5 million to resolve the allegations. As part of the agreements, neither party admitted liability.

Both U.S. companies were accused of violating the False Claims Act by paying physicians in exchange for patient referrals and billing federal healthcare programs, including Medicare, for medically unnecessary testing, according to court documents.

HDL and Singulex did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The alleged conduct took place at HDL between November 2008 and January 2015, while claims against Singulex covered the period from January 2010 to October 2014.

Doctors were paid between $10 and $17 for each patient they referred to the companies for blood tests, prosecutors alleged.

As part of the settlement, the two companies also agreed to enter separate agreements with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, designed to improve review procedures to prevent such conduct happening again, court documents show.

Four whistleblowers filed the lawsuits. Under the False Claims Act, private individuals can do so on behalf of the U.S. government and are due a share of the proceeds recovered. The amount each will get is yet to be determined, the Department of Justice said.

Since January 2009, more than $23.9 billion has been recovered through False Claims Act cases, including more than $15.2 billion from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs, according to the Department of Justice.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alan Crosby

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