The US Justice Department says it secured more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud against the government for the year ending September 30, with the vast majority coming from the pharmaceutical industry.

It is the second year in a row that the department has surpassed $3 billion in recoveries under the False Claims Act, bringing the total since January 2009 to $8.7 billion. The $3 billion total included $2.4 billion in recoveries involving fraud committed against federal healthcare programmes, notably Medicare and Medicaid, while 'whistleblower' cases accounted for $2.8 billion.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the DoJ's civil division said "we are tremendously grateful to whistleblowers who have brought fraud allegations to the government’s attention and assisted us in this public-private partnership to fight fraud".

The DoJ recovered nearly $2.2 billion in civil claims against the pharmaceutical industry during the fiscal year 2011, and these cases included $900 million from eight drug manufacturers to resolve allegations that they had engaged in unlawful pricing to increase their profits. Additionally, GlaxoSmithKline paid $750 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations that it submitted false claims to government healthcare programmes for adulterated drugs.