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Lawsuit Against Abbott's Alere, Arriva Joined by US DOJ

NEW YORK (360Dx) – The US Department of Justice said today that it is joining a False Claims Act lawsuit that alleges Arriva Medical and its parent firm Alere submitted false claims to Medicare.

DOJ also added Ted Albin, a reimbursement consultant for Arriva, a mail order diabetic testing supply company that ceased operations in 2017, as an additional defendant in the case.

The DOJ alleges that Arriva, with oversight and approval of Alere, offered free upgrades of medically unnecessary glucometers to Medicare beneficiaries, and then billed Medicare for the equipment. Arriva is also alleged to have "made no meaningful effort" to collect copayments from the beneficiaries for the glucometers or diabetic testing supplies subsequently purchased from Arriva for use with the glucometers. Such waivers of patient copayments or other benefits to induce patients to purchase a company's products or services violate federal anti-kickback laws, DOJ said.

The lawsuit was filed under qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Acts.

Arriva and Alere were acquired by Abbott in late 2017. Before that, Arriva ran into trouble with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which revoked the lab's Medicare billing privileges because it had billed the center for services and items for deceased Medicare beneficiaries.

In an email to 360Dx, an Abbott spokesman wrote, "This matter relates to activities that took place prior to the acquisition and was previously disclosed by Alere in financial filings. This business was discontinued shortly after the transaction closed."