HHS Targets fraudulent double billing Medicare for Herceptin breast cancer drug by hospitals

The United States Health and Human Services (HHS) watchdog office is investigating a number of cancer centers nationwide for double billing Medicare and Medicaid for the costly breast cancer drug Herceptin.

After an extensive statistical review. HHS says that many doctors and hospitals and doctors have been billing the government for a full vial of Herceptin, even though reviews of over 26,000 patient records show that the treatment called for lower doses and because the Herceptin left in the multi-use vials are used on other people, even though the medicine was already paid for.

Herceptin is the commercial name for the monoclonal antibody drug trastuzumab used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs for the cancer patients with high levels of a specific protein causing an aggressive growth of cancer cells. The Herceptin attacks the protein and has been shown to stop recurrence of breast cancer in many patients.

The drug is sold in vials of 440 milligrams intended to allow for multiple doses. In most cases there is extra drug left over. According to HHS over $24 million of overpayments were made by Medicare because of the double billing.