What’s next for pharma whistleblowers

    2009 was a record-setting year for legal settlements against pharmaceutical companies.

    The biggest lawsuit settlements against pharmaceutical companies happened this year…and they happened in Philadelphia. Some of the lawyers involved in those cases met at Drexel University recently to discuss the future of lawsuits like these.
    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slayer23/ / CC BY-NC 2.0)

    Listen: [audio:0919023kgwhistle.mp3]

    Stephen Sheller represented some of the whistleblowers that brought on a massive penalty against drug company Eli Lilly. The company was accused of marketing an anti-psychotic drug for conditions that the FDA didn’t OK.

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    Sheller explains, there’s a lot of money at stake when drug companies mis-market their medications.

    Sheller: 2.3 billion in Pfizer, 1.415 billion in the Lilly case. That’s $3.7 billion dollars this year…You’re going to see more of it. And with the Obama administration, hopefully we’ll see some real enforcement.

    Tom Gallagher represented Eli Lilly. He says there’s an expectation that the Obama administration will give greater scrutiny to drug advertising.

    Gallagher: Will enforcement increase? I suspect it will. I suspect it will be signifcant attention being paid by the government on these companies. And I can assure that companies know that and are also increasing their commitment to compliance as well.

    Lawyers at the event say they expect health care reform will lead to additional lawsuits against pharmceutical companies. They say that’s because a bigger health care industry provides more opportunities for fraud.

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