In blowing the whistle on AstraZeneca for improperly promoting its Seroquel antipsychotic, a $45 million award will be split by James Wetta, a former AZ sales rep, and Stefan Kruszewski, a psychiatrist, for their role in helping the government resolve the charges. In total, the drugmaker is paying $520 million, most of which goes to the federal treasury (background). These two have won such prizes before. Kruszewski earlier sued Pfizer over its marketing of the Geodon antipsychotic and will receive $14.5 million from a $2.3 billion settlement. And Wetta is one of nine whistleblowers who split about $100 million when Lilly paid $1.4 billion to settle charges over illegal marketing of its Zyprexa antipsychotic.
In general, whistleblowers were paid $2.39 billion from 1987 to 2009, or 16 percent of the $15.19 billion collected in False Claims lawsuits where the federal government joined a case, according to the Justice Department, Bloomberg News reports. However, the US government rejects about 80 percent of federal cases, which means whistleblowers must continue on their own or drop their suit, the news service notes.
Government participation leads to settlements 98 percent of the time, according to John Boese, a lawyer who has defended companies in whistleblower cases, adding that whistleblowers who battle on their own lose more than 95 percent of the time. But whistleblowers are “tremendously important to the development of the cases” in disclosing practices that lead to false claims and providing direct evidence to investigators, Brian Elmer, another attorney who defends companies, tells Bloomberg.
But not everyone agrees with the program. “Every dime we give a whistleblower is money that’s supposed to go to the government and doesn’t,” Boese tells Bloomberg. “Would a whistleblower be willing to bring a case for 5 percent or 10 percent? Do we really have to give out that kind of money to people? They’d do the same thing for far less money, so they’re unjustly enriched.” What do you think?
Should Whistleblowers Be Given Less?
- No (53%, 102 Votes)
- Yes (47%, 90 Votes)
Total Voters: 192
pic thx to katerha on flickr