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Whistleblower cases

Whistleblower cases are in the news with great regularity in the U.S. Everywhere that corruption and waste exist - that is, everywhere that human beings are engaged in commerce - there will be whistleblower cases. However, the frequency of whistleblower cases does not diminish the importance of "blowing the whistle" on fraud, abuse and waste.

Largest Whistleblower Case Settlement in History

The most recent whistleblower cases involve huge corporations, Wall Street concerns and pharmaceutical companies. The latter category has turned up the largest whistleblower case settlement in history: the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company agreed on January 15 to pay a total of $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties based on the fraudulent, illegal marketing of its drug Zyprexa. Former Eli Lilly employees were the whistleblowers in this case.

Zyprexa and "Off-Label" Uses

Zyprexa is approved by the FDA as a prescription anti-psychotic medication. Apparently, Eli Lilly sales representatives were instructed to persuade physicians across the U.S. to prescribe Zyprexa for several "off-label" uses, such as:

  • sedation for agitated nursing home residents
  • treatment for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia
  • medication for depression
  • sleep disorder treatment

Medicaid and Medicare Footed the Bill

The state and federal Medicaid and Medicare programs were then billed for the Zyprexa. In fact, federal investigators found that 40 percent of all Zyprexa sales since its FDA approval in 1996 were for such off-label uses.

The federal prosecutors in the case noted that Lilly ignored FDA warnings that Zyprexa should not be widely prescribed - because of its serious and possibly dangerous side effects.

Whistleblower Protection and Reward

There were nine Lilly whistleblowers in all; some filed whistleblower cases as individuals, others as a small group. In accord with the relevant federal whistleblower legislation (known as the False Claims Act), the nine:

  • were shielded by harassment, demotion or termination during the government's investigation
  • will be awarded a significant share in the money recovered from Lilly
  • will remain anonymous for their protection

Zyprexa sales brought Eli Lilly $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three quarters of 2008 alone. As Michael Freedland, an attorney for one group of the Lilly whistleblowers put it, "Through a calculating marketing scheme, Eli Lilly defrauded Medicare and Medicaid to the tune of billions of dollars" luckily there were people within the company who witnessed this travesty and had the courage to step forward and put an end to it. They are true heroes."

If you suspect that you have a whistleblower case of your own, contact us to speak with an experienced whistleblower lawyer today. A qualified attorney will ensure your legal rights are protected.

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