GlaxoSmithKline Whistleblower Receives $96 Million


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Cheryl Eckard was paid $96 million, the largest settlement to date for a whistleblower, after reporting GlaxoSmithKline for violations in the Puerto Rico facility. Contaminations were leading to potentially serious problems. Eckard reported the situation internally before going to the authorities. Five of the six executives that ignored the whistleblower reportedly still work for the pharmaceuticals giant. The total settlement was for $750 million. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, which is intended to protect, reward and thus encourage whistleblowers, those taking the brave stand of reporting wrong doing receive 10% to 30% of the resulting settlement.

Supporters of the Dodd-Frank Act as well as the False Claims Act, also known as “those who care about the safety of the human population,” are calling the settlement a victory. There is great hope that this claim will result in empowering other whistleblowers thus leading to a greater protection for the consumer masses.

Qui Tam cases are now taking center stage in a debate as to whether or not it is a good idea to reward whistleblowers with so much compensation. This begs the question ‘if the goal is public safety, how do you encourage an employee to risk their livelihood, family, future, survival and retaliation to do the right thing?’ Some have even foolishly asserted that Dodd-Frank undermines Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that encourages whistleblowers to act internally and not report wrongful and dangerous acts to the authorities. Hopefully, these critics will note that Eckard went to six top executives at GlaxoSmithKline and was ignored by all BEFORE going to the proper authorities.

Eckard spent ten months, according to allegations in court papers, trying to motivate six different corporate officials to do something about life threatening flaws in the Cidra plant. Pills were being made with incorrect doses along with the aforementioned contamination problems. Several attempts to get something done were ignored and Eckard finally stated to these executives that she would not take part in a cover up. She was fired for taking a stand and then attempted to contact chief executive JP Garnier who would not take the call. It was only then that a complaint to the FDA and a Qui Tam suit were filed.

If there is anything to be learned from this case it is that determination pays off and no matter how powerful the company, they are beholden to a responsibility for safe conduct.




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