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The differences and similarities between American and Italian healthcare fraud, waste, and abuse laws: Part 3

Pamela Coyle Brecht (pcb@pietragallo.com) serves as Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP’s Practice Chair for the firm’s global Qui Tam/False Claims Act Practice Group in Philadelphia, PA. Paola Sangiovanni (paola.sangiovanni@grplex.com) is a healthcare lawyer and partner in the law firm of Gitti and Partners, which is located in Milan, Italy. Her clients include med tech, pharma, and healthcare providers. Marc Stephen Raspanti (msr@pietragallo.com) is a name partner of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the founder of the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group as well as the firm’s Qui Tam/False Claims Act Practice Group.

Part 1 of this article series, published in the November 2021 issue of Compliance Today, outlined in general the American and Italian healthcare systems. Part 2, published in the December 2021 issue, outlined America’s primary healthcare fraud laws. Part 3 of this series outlines the Italian healthcare enforcement regime, criminal law, and the Anti-Corruption Act.

Italian enforcement against fraud and corruption, including in the healthcare field, has traditionally been reserved to criminal courts, with no specific effort to coordinate or combine these actions through civil remedies. In light of the largely state-funded healthcare system in Italy, government corruption is in the foreground of efforts to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in healthcare. Egregious scandals erupted in Italian healthcare sectors, especially in the 1990s. Perhaps the most notorious case involved Dr. Duilio Poggiolini, the Ministry of Health’s general manager of the pharmaceutical department whose fortune included gold, jewels, and paintings of enormous value.[1] Poggiolini was charged and arrested for using his position for personal benefit, and his sentence of seven and a half years in prison was reduced on appeal.[2] The scandal surfaced during an investigation, called “mani pulite,” by a pool of public prosecutors operating out of the Milan criminal court. They were able to pierce the veil of silence that long protected government corruption. While its success resulted from significant cooperation and solidarity among the prosecutors, their coordination was not officially structured as an institutional team.

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