July 01,2010

Grassley works to empower whistleblowers, protect tax dollars


TO:      Reporters and Editors

FR:      Jill Kozeny, 202-224-1308

            for Senator Chuck Grassley

RE:      whistleblower protections for drug company employees

DA:     July 1, 2010

Senator Chuck Grassley has sent letters to 16 pharmaceutical companies about the False Claims Act, which offers whistleblower protections to private-sector employees who identify fraud against the taxpayers.

Grassley said, “The False Claims Act is a proven success in both identifying and deterring fraud and recovering fraudulently obtained taxpayer dollars.  The more that can be done to create awareness of it, the more good it can do.  My appeal to drug makers is based on the fact that they have a public responsibility to safeguard the tax dollars that pay for their products, and promoting a culture where those who speak up about possible fraud are rewarded rather than retaliated against is one way to fulfill that responsibility.  In the last three years, Pharmaceutical companies have paid out over $3 billion in settlements under the False Claims Act for defrauding federal health care programs.  There can never be too many taxpayer watchdogs, so I see this letter as an opportunity to foster a mindset that recognizes the value of whistleblowers and the duty these companies have to act honestly when seeking taxpayer dollars.”

Recent False Claims Act settlements with pharmaceutical manufacturers include:

Astra Zeneca -- $520 million -- April 2010

Pfizer -- $2.3 billion ($1 billion under FCA, $1.3 billion criminal) -- September 2009

Eli Lily -- $1.4 billion -- January 2009

Bristol Myers Squibb -- $515 million -- 2007

            Below are links to the letters sent by Grassley to:

            Abbott Laboratories


            AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

            Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

            Eisai Corporation of America

            Eli Lilly and Company

            Forest Laboratories


            Hoffman-La Roche Inc.

            Johnson & Johnson

            Merck & Co.




            Takeda Pharmaceuticals


Grassley co-authored the 1986 updates to the False Claims Act, which breathed new life into what is known as Abe Lincoln’s Law by empowering qui tam relators to act as private attorneys general and file suit against those who defraud the federal government.  President Lincoln sought the False Claims Act during the Civil War in response to war profiteering that defrauded U.S. taxpayers.  Since the modern-day changes made by Grassley’s amendments in 1986, the law has recovered more than $22 billion that would otherwise have been lost to fraud.  It has become the government’s most effective weapon against fraud, including health care fraud.