Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/07 06:22:58 GMT
Our man of the week is Douglas Durand who’s just walked away with $46.5 (£29.7m) after he blew the whistle on UK drugs giant AstraZeneca over one of their prostate cancer drugs.
The company has been found guilty in the United States of a felony charge of health fraud, and has agreed to pay $355m to settle criminal and civil accusations that it illegally marketed the drug Zoladex.
The company had given illegal financial inducements to up to 400 doctors to try the new drug on their patients. The inducements included free samples of Zoladex, which the physicians then billed to Medicare, financial grants, and free travel and entertainment.
It is the second largest fine for health fraud in the United States. The largest was against TAP Pharmaceutical Products, which coughed up $875m in 2001 following similar charges.
AstraZeneca and TAP were both aggressively marketing a new prostate drug (TAP’s was Lupron), and Mr Durand, a former vice president at TAP, blew the whistle on both companies. Under American law, the whistle-blower is entitled to a share of the fine-and Mr Durand really cleaned up. He receives $46.5m for the AstraZeneca case, and $77m for the TAP discovery.
There are plenty more similar cases in the wings. AstraZeneca is also being investigated over the sale of its anti-ulcer drug Prilosec and its heartburn treatment Nexium.
Speaking to the press after the AstraZeneca case, Richard Andrews, first assistant United States attorney for the District of Delaware, said: “We want doctors to prescribe what is best for their patients and not what is best for the doctor’s bank account.”
This is an outrageous statement, and one that displays the man’s ignorance. Such a view would turn on its head all the marketing efforts of every pharmaceutical company.
Nonetheless, you might wonder how you can join in this smorgasbord of whistle blowing. After all, Mr Durand was privy to insider knowledge, you might protest, but we say to you: you’re missing the point-because EVERY drug company is doing it!