In October 2010 it was reported that Cheryl Eckard, a quality-assurance manager at the pharmaceutical company Glaxo-SmithKline who had blown the whistle on the safety of products made in its Puerto Rico plant, had been fired as a result of what the company called a “redundancy” related to the merger of Glaxo Well come and SmithKline Beecham a couple of years before. Of course, the suspicion was that Eckard was fired because she refused to go along in a cover-up of the quality assurance and compliance problems at the plant. She had made recommendations to her superiors that were ignored reportedly because the company was too busy preparing for an FDA inspection they hoped would clear the way for approval to market two new products, including the diabetes drug Avandamet, which was eventually approved. Eckard had found that the manufacturing facility had a contaminated water system, an air system that allowed products to be cross-contaminated and pills of different strengths mixed in the same bottles, among other problems.
Eckard filed a federal lawsuit against Glaxo under the U.S. False Claims Act. She won $96 million as part of a $750 million penalty against Glaxo. Glaxo agreed to pay millions in fines, penalties and settlements to resolve claims that it knowingly made and sold adulterated drugs, including Paxil, a popular antidepressant, with the intent to defraud and mislead.
How do you view whistleblowers that approach the government under the False Claims Act and win large awards from the settlement? Are they just out for the money? Should they profit from the wrongdoing of their employer? Or, are they performing an important public service?

  • CreatedDecember 30, 2014
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