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Bad Karma for Big Pharma – and other qui tam news

While the Justice Department and a private attorney celebrate a $1.4 billion settlement for Eli Lilly’s misbranding of the drug Zyprexa, the ACLU is throwing down a challenge to the secrecy provisions of the law that made it possible.

The federal False Claims Act provides big rewards for whistleblowers who report fraud on the taxpayer.  Six whistleblowers will share in nearly $79 million from the Lilly settlement announced today.

The ACLU has one criticism of the False Claims Act, however.  The civil liberties advocates say the secrecy provisions of the law serve to hide Iraq war costs and other critical information from the public.  The ACLU and two other watchdog groups today filed suit in Alexandria federal court asking that the FCA’s secrecy provisions be declared unconstitutional.

The lawsuit alleges FCA secrecy provisions have hidden claims of military contractor fraud from the public, raising concerns the government might be sweeping its dirt under the rug.  “There is no excuse for an effective whistleblower law to degenerate into a statutory gag order,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project.

The complaint filed by the ACLU, the GAP, and OMB Watch is here.

By Peter Vieth

One comment

  1. Too bad the ACLU et al. misunderstand two things: (1) the nature of qui tam litigation; and (2) the fundamental purpose of the seal, which is in the interests of everyone–the American taxpayer, qui tam relators, the government, and the defendants. They don’t realize how hard the folks at Justice and the private qui tam bar have to work to put together and investigate one of these cases–and why it can’t be done in 60 days.

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