Last month, the United States Department of Justice announced that Pfizer, Inc agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve a qui tam/ False Claims Act case. This is the largest qui tam/False Claims Act settlement in history. A qui tam case is a case that allows a private citizen (the whistleblower) who knows of fraud committed against the United States to file a lawsuit to recover the losses caused by the government fraud. The False Claims Act provides large financial incentives to citizen whistleblowers to report government fraud. In the instance case there were a total of six employee whistleblowers (or qui tam relators) who filed lawsuits under the Federal False Claims Act. The civil portion of this settlement was $1 billion which resolves the claims made by the whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. The company will also pay criminal fines of $1.195 billion. This is also the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States. In addition, Pharmacia & Upjohn , a Pfizer subsidiary will pay $105 million in criminal penalties, for a total criminal settlement of $1.3 billion. The total settlement, civil and criminal, is $2.3 billion. The six individual whistleblowers will share more than $102 million in relator's fees, pursuant to the False Claims Act.
The allegations were that Pfizer illegally promoted four drugs (the most notable drug being the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra), caused false claims to be submitted to government healthcare programs for uses of the drug, other than those approved by the FDA , and provided kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe these drugs.
In January, 2009, Eli Lilly and Company settled similar claims for $800 million, regarding its marketing of the drug Zyprexa for $800 million. These cases demonstrated the courageousness of the whistleblowers who come forward to report these frauds. The whistleblower lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman Cammarata and Siegel, P.C. are proud to represent these individuals. If you know of government waste or fraud, contact us.