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The Health Care Biz, Sick to Death?

Four years ago, Cynthia Fitzgerald of Dallas -- a former pharmaceutical saleswoman turned health-care equipment purchaser -- filed a federal lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, Becton Dickinson, Merck and nearly a dozen more health-care equipment manufacturers. The suit, which was unsealed in 2007, alleges that "improper sales practices, together with erroneous accounting, are invisibly draining millions of dollars out of vital public programs like Medicare through overcharges or unauthorized uses."

Yesterday, in a lengthy and riveting piece, The New York Times took a look at Fitzgerald's suit and proclaimed that it might become "one of the largest whistle-blower lawsuits on record," as it alleged "systemic fraud across a whole network of companies and more than 7,000 health care institutions." The sequel to Sicko, sounds like. (Bonus points: Photos provided by Dallas Observer contributor Brian Harkin.) Irving-based Novation, which looks for good deals for health-care providers and employed Fitzgerald after she moved to Dallas in 1998, dismisses the allegations concerning bid-rigging for IV equipment as "old rumors and suspicions." --Robert Wilonsky

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