New York, New York (PRWEB) October 22, 2013
Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that represents whistleblowers in qui tam cases, is looking to inform potential whistleblowers in the pharmaceutical industry that if they have proof of an improper relationship between their firm and a government entity such as a regulating agency, then financial opportunities could abound courtesy of the federal government.
One recent example involving a potential unlawful relationship between a regulator and one or more pharmaceutical companies centers on a scientific panel charged with shaping the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers. As The Washington Post reported on Oct. 6, 2013, major pharmaceutical companies funded the panel, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for an opportunity “to affect the thinking” of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to hundreds of emails that were obtained via a public records request.
The emails show, The Washington Post noted, that the pharmaceutical companies paid as much as $25,000 to attend panel meetings. Two medical professors, Robert Dworkin of the University of Rochester and Dennis Turk of the University of Washington, organized the panel, and as The Washington Post reported, the emails mainly described their efforts at financing and organizing the group and its meetings.
The Post article further noted that the FDA has been disparaged for failing to put in place stricter precautions that might have helped the U.S. to avoid the “epidemic of addiction to prescription drugs,” such as Oxycontin and other opioids.
Sen. Joe Manchin III has since called for an investigation into “pay to play” allegations regarding the scientific panel, The Washing Post reported on Oct. 9, 2013. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, noted in the Oct. 9 Washington Post report, Manchin requested that a list of documents be turned over to his office; the list included the names of all the companies that had paid to attend the panel’s meetings, as well as how much they paid. Also of interest, the Post article added, were any emails between the companies’ event organizers and FDA officials.
The Oct. 9 Washington Post report added that Manchin (D-W. Va.) had been pushing the FDA to place stricter limits on hydrocodone — a key ingredient in the painkillers Vicodin and Lortab — due to its “addictive power and widespread availability.” Pharmacy companies and others have disagreed with this tact, the Post report noted, claiming that additional restrictions “could unfairly put the drugs out of reach for patients who need them.”
In recent years many pharmaceutical employees have come forward to report fraudulent billing, illegal marketing techniques and undisclosed drug side effects. These people – known as whistleblowers – have helped the federal government recover billions of dollars obtained illegally by pharmaceutical companies. Whistleblowers have also helped save the lives of countless prescription drug and medical device users who were previously unaware of the side effects of their device or prescription.
Specifically, the Civil War-era False Claims Act provides whistleblowers with protection and the opportunity for compensation. Amendments added to the Act in 1986 helped to incentivize whistleblowers to come forward, primarily by raising the amounts that can be charged for damages and penalties; whistleblowers can be awarded millions of dollars today; between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered by the government.
Anyone who possesses proof that a pharmaceutical company has engaged in an unlawful relationship and is thereby committing fraudulent activity against the federal government is encouraged to contact us. Please view our Qui Tam page or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636).
Parker Waichman LLP
Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney