WASHINGTON, May 12, 2010 -- The New England Journal of Medicine today released a study entitled, "Whistle-blower Experiences in Fraud Litigation Against Pharmaceutical Companies." Some of the whistleblower cases discussed in the report were brought by Phillips & Cohen LLP, a law firm with offices in Washington, DC, and San Francisco. Phillips & Cohen has specialized in representing whistleblowers for more than 20 years.
Comments from Erika Kelton, a Washington, DC, attorney with Phillips & Cohen LLP.
She has represented several whistleblowers in the pharma industry, including the pharma sales rep whose case against Pfizer Inc. for illegal marketing of Bextra settled last year for a record-breaking $1.8 billion, including a $1.3 criminal fine.
"The study confirms our experience with whistleblowers. Most complain internally about an illegal or unethical practice by their employer, assuming -- or hoping -- that their employer will change. Whistleblowers generally are loyal employees. Unfortunately employers often tend to repay that loyalty by retaliating against those who speak out. People often turn to us after they have been fired or have raised their concerns with management but nothing changes. Typically, whistleblowers decide to file a "qui tam" lawsuit as a last resort. Most are motivated more by exposing wrongdoing and stopping what often are harmful or dangerous practices than by any hope for a reward."
"Financial incentives are important for whistleblowers. They encourage people who otherwise wouldn't do so to step forward. Rewards can be lifesavers for these people, many of whom have been fired from their jobs, blackballed in their industries and unable to find other work or only find work for which they are overqualified and underpaid. There is no guarantee that someone who files a qui tam lawsuit will end up receiving a reward. But for those whistleblowers who persevere and are successful, the reward from a qui tam case can change their lives and compensate them for the personal and professional suffering they have endured."
About the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, and similar state laws, allow private individuals to sue companies that are defrauding the government and recover funds on the government's behalf. Whistleblowers are entitled to 15 percent to 25 percent of the recovery that results from their "qui tam" lawsuits if the government joins their case and 30 percent if the government doesn't join.
For more information about Phillips & Cohen's record, see P&C's Successful Whistleblower Cases.