In an article for Forbes.com, Phillips & Cohen partner Erika Kelton describes how whistleblowers can play a crucial role in preventing fraud and exposing public health risks during a critical phase of the pandemic, as infection rates skyrocket and government prepare to spend vast sums of money into the development and purchase a coronavirus vaccine, in turn creating opportunities for fraud.
As pharma races to develop and manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, whistleblowers are expected to play an important role in ensuring that vaccine manufacturers don’t succumb to the temptation to take unsafe shortcuts, exaggerate positive results, sidestep good manufacturing practices or fail to comply with sensitive handling requirements in distributing vaccines to the public.
Whistleblowers have long been essential in policing the pharma industry and exposing misconduct that is hidden from regulators.
The federal government’s funding of vaccine development and its expected purchase of hundreds of millions of vaccine doses mean that whistleblowers who are aware of noncompliant practices involving a Covid-19 vaccine may be well positioned to file a qui tam lawsuit to stop the problems.
The False Claims Act allows private citizens who know of companies committing fraud against the government to file a qui tam lawsuit and recover funds on the government’s behalf. Whistleblowers are entitled to protection against employment retaliation and a significant reward if government funds are recovered. The GSK whistleblower was awarded more than $96 million.
The challenges of developing a vaccine, manufacturing it and distributing it around the world are immense. Serious problems that affect the safety and efficacy of the vaccine can occur at any step.
Read the entire article, “Whistleblower Cases Are A Warning To Covid-19 Vaccine Makers,” on Forbes.com.