The qui tam complaint against Pfizer, USA rel. Polansky v. Pfizer is pressing forward according to court documents filed by the Plaintiff's legal counsel, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. To view the complaint, click here. (Warning, the document is pretty lengthy, 97 pages, but worth every moment spent reading.) This comes after the whistleblower complaint being initially filed with the federal government about 3 1/2 years ago and the federal government deciding recently not to intervene.
It can be difficult for a whistleblower to press forward with a qui tam claim, they often lose their jobs, face retaliation, lose family and friends and often are forced to give up something they truly love. ). The Pharmafraud Blogger discusses challenges whistleblowers can face while trying to do what is right, in the recent post Big Pharma Retaliation, Just More of the Same, "If you think Dr. Polansky, or I, or any other "whistleblower" was motivated by money to file a qui tam, then you are sorely mistaken. Every one of us simply tried to do what was right". However, I must add that whistleblowers, if successful, can receive up to 30 percent of the proceeds of what the government recovers. As we mentioned in a prior Whistleblower Law Blog post, In 2007, whistleblowers were awarded $177 million for their efforts in bringing corporations to justice, most of which came from Health Care fraud.
Another well known whistleblower and one of the most prominent in the health care segment is Dr. Peter Rost. He knows first hand how difficult it can be to bring a claim against a large pharma giant, such as Pfizer. Dr. Rost, former VP of Marketing for Pfizer, is an outspoken pharma whistleblower that went on to become an activist on the subject. He has authored several books including: KILLER DRUG and THE WHISTLEBLOWER, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman and maintains a blog known as Question Authority.
Is Pfizer off the hook? Can they breathe a sigh of relief? Are they in the clear with Lipitor, since the government chose not intervene in the qui tam claim? David Armstrong provides a nice answer to this in the Wall Street Journal article, "Pfizer Is Sued Over Lipitor Marketing"., when he writes "The government hasn't intervened in other cases which led to huge fines against drug companies. One example is another case involving Pfizer, this one for the off-label marketing of Neurontin." Only time will how the claim against Pfizer for questionable marketing for the billion dollar drug will turn out. May the truth prevail in this uphill battle.
According to Pfizer company issued statements, they are the world's largest research-based biomedical and pharmaceutical company. In 2006, they earned $48.4 billion in revenues and invested $7.6 billion in research and development. In a Pfizer fact sheet, the company writes, "Every day, approximately 87,000 colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients." One can only hope they are not doing this at the sacrifice of lives in the process.
Pfizer stock most recently closed at $22.90 on the NYSE.