Whistle-blower speaks out after settlement in hospital kickback scheme

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

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ATLANTA - The whistle-blower in one of the largest kickback cases in Georgia's history has talked to Channel 2 Action News.

Monday afternoon, a judge ordered C.R. Bard to pay out after Julie Darity, from Macon, said she was eventually fired by Bard after she started noticing kickbacks for hospitals involving cancer treatments.

Darity will get 21 percent of that settlement, which equals about $10.1 million.

"My life will be better. I won't have to worry about house payments like I have in the last seven years," Darity told Channel 2's Craig Lucie.

Darity said she's still working, just not for Bard.

"It's surreal. It has not hit me. I'm at work today and I'm on my lunch time," Darity said.

Darity explained to Lucie how she first noticed the kickbacks.

"Things were being done above selling a product. Sales reps were offering things to customers that were in addition to the product, things that cost money," Darity said.

Darity said she discovered that Bard would pay the hospital kickbacks to buy their radioactive seeds to treat prostate cancer patients.

"I think it's the largest kickback case in Georgia history," attorney Marlan Wilbanks told Lucie.

Wilbanks said C.R. Bard overcharged dozens of hospitals around the country for prostate cancer seeds.

The radioactive seeds allow doctors to treat patients by limiting the amount of damage to surrounding tissues. One patient may have 40-100 seeds implanted.

The lawsuit alleged that when hospitals complained about the high price of the seeds, Bard told them to pass the charges onto Medicare. By doing this, Wilbanks said Medicare would then pay Bard.

"The taxpayer was ultimately paying for those seeds because they are a pass through cost for the Medicare and Medicaid programs," explained Wilbanks.

In return, attorneys said Bard would then kick back some of the money to the hospitals along with some other perks.

"Some were financial grants given to the hospitals, some were equipment, equipment maintenance," Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks said Darity is a hero for coming forward. She was rewarded in a big way when she asked Bard if she could keep her computer when she was fired. She paid them $250 for the computer knowing one thing.

"I knew what I had on the computer was evidence of criminal activities so I turned it all over to the government," Darity said.

C.R. Bard released a statement to Channel 2 Action News saying, "The Company is pleased that it has finalized agreements with the government to resolve matters related to its brachytherapy business dating back to 2006.

"This resolution allows the Company to put this matter behind it and continue to focus on delivering life-enhancing medical devices and technologies to patients around the world. We remain committed to continuously enhancing and improving our compliance programs in accordance with industry standards."

"As a Company, we emphasize and expect that all of our employees around the world adhere to the highest ethical behavior in all daily activities and comply with all laws and regulations that apply to the conduct of Bard's business worldwide."

Darity also received a separate settlement from Bard over the allegations that they retaliated against her, but the amount she received from that settlement is confidential.