In recent years many pharmaceutical employees have come forward to report fraudulent billing, illegal marketing techniques and undisclosed drug side effects. These courageous people known as whistleblowers have helped the federal government recover billions of dollars that were obtained illegally by pharmaceutical companies. More importantly whistleblowers have helped save the lives of thousands of prescription drug users that were previously unaware of their medication’s side effects.
Some whistleblowers can become quite wealthy indeed. In 2009, John Kopchinski, a Gulf War veteran and former Pfizer sales representative, earned more than $51.5 million as a result of his whistleblower lawsuit against the world’s biggest drug maker and the record penalty the company had to payto the U.S. government for marketing offenses.
Kopchinski, appalled by Pfizer’s tactics in selling the pain drug Bextra, filed a “qui tam” lawsuit in 2003, sparking federal and state probes that led to an eventual agreement by the company to pay $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties and plead guilty to a felony charge for promoting Bextra and 12 other drugs for unapproved uses and doses.
More than $30 Billion Recovered
The Justice Department last year celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act.
“In the last quarter century, the False Claims Act’s success has been unparalleled, with more than $30 billion dollars recovered since it was amended in 1986 and $8.8 billion since January 2009,” said Attorney General Eric Holder at an event marking the day. “The Department of Justice has achieved record recoveries in recent years and we will continue to aggressively pursue those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens.”