Glaxo Whistleblower Matthew Burke

Phillips & Cohen represented GlaxoSmithKline whistleblowers Matthew Burke and his co-relator in a qui tam case against GlaxoSmithKline that helped win a record-setting settlement of $3 billion from Glaxo in 2012. Below is an excerpt from a story Lawdragon published in 2014.

The Giant Killers of the Whistleblower Bar

One whistleblower’s life who has changed as a result of his association with [Phillips & Cohen partner Erika] Kelton is former GSK employee Matthew Burke.

"I have so much admiration for her," Burke says of Kelton. "What I find so impressive about her is that it’s about justice, and doing the right thing. It’s about fair play."

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Burke describes himself as a competitive guy from a large family who grew up playing high school and college baseball. He worked at Procter & Gamble until moving over to Glaxo, where he started in sales and marketing, eventually becoming a regional vice president of sales.

Eventually he became aware of what he describes as "immoral and illegal things" that reminded him of the lurid tales at the center of "a John Grisham novel."

According to Burke, one of his sales reps had observed a physician speak on a number of occasions about off-label uses for the drug Wellbutrin, which accounted for $2 billion in sales at the time. She conveyed this in an email to her manager, who shared the information with Burke, who also shared the information with Glaxo employees.

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Burke was fired, he says, simply for forwarding the email.

"I began looking into the marketing of the product," says Burke. "I was motivated by the fact that I had been bullied, and the fact that GSK was marketing products that were improper and dangerous."

He reached out to Phillips & Cohen after a friend informed him of the firm’s success in bringing whistleblower cases. "I knew that most of the time it doesn’t work out well for whistleblowers even when they effect change," he says, "but my engagement with them was so positive."

Burke attributes his experience to Kelton's deft handling of the matter, which included the help of another whistleblower from Glaxo, he says. "I consider her a friend. We took on Goliath together. She managed our expectations, respected our intelligence, and treated us as partners in the process."

Read the full article here.