Chris worked in pharmaceutical sales and his main product was an anti-depressant drug. The marketplace for these types of drugs is very competitive, so the sales force had to be very aggressive. Marketing budgets were large, and two common practices were to lavishly wine and dine doctors, and to put on speaker programs in which a doctor would be paid an honorarium by the drug company to speak with groups of physicians about a drug.
One day, a physician client of Chris’ had called him requesting a drug that they needed, so he prepared to drop by the office to fill the order. He checked the calendar and saw that a colleague of his was putting on a speaker luncheon event that week, so he planned to drop by the client’s office on the same day as the luncheon. However, when he arrived at his client’s office that day, he found out that the scheduled luncheon was not going on at all. He discovered that a psychiatrist had been paid to do the event, which never took place. At the time, Chris did not know about qui tam, but he did know that something wasn’t right.
In addition, Chris had seen company literature condoning off-label marketing to pediatricians; he had even been given a list of pediatricians on his call list, and neither of the drugs he was selling were approved for children. Again, he clearly recognized that something was not right. Therefore, he started to collect information at that time, which he kept at home separate from his other work files.
When he complained to his superior, he learned that his boss was the brother-in-law of one of the pharmaceutical representatives that encouraged the off label marketing and kickbacks mentioned above, so his concerns were ignored. Eventually, he was terminated. The day he was fired, people from his company came to his house to repossess company property, including files and his company car. Fortunately, Chris had saved his evidence separately from his other company files.
At this point, Chris thought his case was only for wrongful termination and he sought out an employment attorney. He eventually won his wrongful termination case but more importantly, Chris’ attorney recognized that there was also a qui tam (FCA) case and helped Chris find a qui tam attorney, who prepared and filed the case.
ANNUAL BUDGET PER SALES REP TO SPEND ON PHYSICIANS
COUNTS OF FRAUD AGAINST THE COMPANY
YEARS FOR THE CASE TO SETTLE
During the nearly eight years it took for his case to be settled, Chris had great difficulty finding another job. He also went through a divorce and his father passed away. It was a very tough period for him. He felt like people around him sensed that something else was going on, “What’s this guy’s deal? Why can’t he just get another job?” But he couldn’t tell any friends, neighbors, or family members about it, or even potential employers. In spite of his hardship, Chris was not deterred. He remained positive and confident that he had a good case and confident that he would win. Chris was right. The U.S. Government reached a settlement with Forest Laboratories in the amount of $313 million dollars. Chris’ case was the largest in the history of the state of Virginia.
MILLION DOLLAR WHISTLEBLOWER REWARD (APPROX.)