Ah to be loved and respected by your employees. That is something Martin Shkreli doesn’t have to worry about. A recent article in the New York Post suggests some co-workers think he is the anti-Christ. Now that the feds (and seemingly everyone else) is trying to take down Shkreli, it appears that some of the co-workers are willing to speak.
As a leading whistleblower law firm investigating big pharma, we are always on the hunt for pharmaceutical workers willing to blow the whistle on fraud, greed, corruption and other illegal conduct. Under the federal False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, substantial whistleblower awards may be available for those first to step up. (More on that below.)
Martin Shkreli’s Prosecution
Martin Shkreli has been affiliated with several pharmaceutical companies including Turing Pharmaceuticals and Retrophin Inc. He gained notoriety in 2015 when he raised the price of a life-saving anti-parasitic drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 per pill to $750.00. That action caused him to be dubbed the most hated man in America.
While the media furor was raging over the price increases, Shkreli thumbed his nose at Congress and refused to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee was investigating why Shkreli raised the price of the drug by 5000%.
Nothing productive came out of the committee hearing. Except to say how his name should be pronounced and to say he was listening, Shkreli refused to answer questions. At one point, he live tweeted that Congress was a bunch of imbeciles.
His loud mouth and verbal taunts are probably what prompted the feds to indict him. Shkreli was charged in December of 2015 with felony securities fraud. Ironically, raising drug prices by 5000% wasn’t illegal but running a Ponzi scheme is. We think that the feds were looking for a way to reign him in and his big mouth and unrepentant attitude made that quite easy.
Last month his trial began and from what we know, there probably won’t be any shortage of his former employees willing to testify against him.
A research analyst at Shkreli’s hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, testified that he was mentally unstable and threatened to expose him as a scam artist. That same worker would send a text message to the company’s CEO just before her firing. In it she said, “If he f–ks me over one more time with respect to money then I’m going to expose him.”
Almost as soon as the trial began, prosecutors were seeking a gag order against Shkreli. Brooklyn’s acting US Attorney wrote to the court last week and claimed Shkreli is “attacking prosecutors [and] public figures” and “trying to turn this trial into a circus as part of a deliberate strategy to obtain jury nullification rather than have the jury focus on and carefully consider the evidence.”
Even before the gag order request, Twitter permanently banned him from its platform after journalists claimed they were harassed.
Big Pharma, Whistleblowers and Large Cash Awards
Some of the biggest whistleblower awards in US history have been paid to workers at pharmaceutical companies. Anyone with inside information about fraud involving a federal funds may be eligible for an award. Because almost all drugs sold in the United States are available to Medicare, TriCare and Medicaid beneficiaries, whistleblower awards are usually available in pharma fraud cases.
The federal False Claims Act pays awards of between 15% and 30% of whatever the government collects from the wrongdoers. Because the Act authorizes triple damages and huge fines, those awards can quickly add up.
Awards Only to the First to Report
In most cases, only the first person to file a False Claims Act claim gets an award. We often see that after a company gets caught, many people are willing to come forward and cooperate. Unfortunately, once the matter becomes public, it is usually too late.
In our experience, people don’t come forward for three reasons.
First, there is fear of retaliation. Congress and most states have very robust whistleblower protection and anti-retaliation measures. Of course, we understand the courts aren’t always as quick as we would like them to be.
Congress thought of this too. False Claims Act cases are filed under seal meaning they are secret. Only the government is aware of the claim while it remains under investigation. Often claims remain under seal for months and sometimes years. (We have an employment lawyer on staff to help with retaliation claims should the occur.)
Another reason why folks don’t file is lack of knowledge. Sadly, employers are not required to put up posters advising the availability of whistleblower awards. Every place of employment is required to have minimum wage, medical leave and other legal posters but nothing that touches on whistleblower awards. In our experience, most people don’t know that cash awards are available from the courts. (Only a few hundred False Claims Act lawsuits are filed each year nationwide.)
Finally, we often hear that people don’t file because they figure someone else must have! If everyone had that same attitude, no claims would ever get filed!
Why Pharma Insiders Should Step Forward
Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli ripped off taxpayers and the public when he raised the price of Daraprim by 5000%. He is accused of an economic crime.
To the extent some patients can no longer afford their life saving medication, Shkreli is endangering lives.
Often pharmaceutical fraud involves cGMP problems. That means drugs that are adulterated, sub potent or super potent. Mislabeled and dirty prescriptions have no business in our medicine cabinets. When that happens, the results can be deadly.
If you have information about cGMP violations, unreported testing errors, best pricing violations, bribes to foreign officials, or marketing drugs illegally off label use, call us. Our whistleblower clients have collected tens of millions of dollars.
You could be the next person to collect and award. More importantly, by becoming a whistleblower, you may be saving a life. Whistleblowers are the new American heroes.
Don’t wait for the next Martin Shkreli to meltdown or the next group of Americans to be killed by adulterated drugs.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by phone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). Please visit our pharmaceutical whistleblower page too!
Worried about being exposed? All inquiries protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential. We can seek permission for Jane Doe filings and take other steps to protect your identity.
Worried about affording a lawyer? We don’t get paid until and unless we collect money on your behalf.
MahanyLaw – America’s Pharmaceutical Whistleblower Lawyers