'Serial' Whistleblower May Lose Claim Because of Money

While the following story is a little bit on the "old" side (at least by today's standard), the interesting circumstances of it warrant some discussion.

Amgen is the largest biotechnology company in the world, and they pleaded guilty to misbranding some of their drugs -- one, in particular, a sleep drug called Aranesp. That federal case racked up quite a bill for the biotech giant: $150 million in criminal fines and $612 million in civil settlements.

Now how did federal authorities garner the evidence against Amgen? Well, a doctor "working undercover" at Amgen blew the whistle on the company, saying that Amgen "routinely" paid doctors who tried to push their prescription drugs on patients. The doctor said there were at least seven drugs involved in the scheme, including Aranesp.

Under normal circumstances, this story would be pretty straightforward. But as it turns out, this doctor has made whistleblowing a sort of hobby, if you will. He has filed at least 13 whistleblower claims before and even runs a whistleblower organization.

Again, this wouldn't be that big of a deal; though it's certainly an interesting twist. But the story gets weirder: the federal government is threatening to drop the whistleblower claim if the undercover doctor fails to "sign onto a global settlement" of the case. The doctor has requested that the government inform him what his cut will be of the "global settlement" before signing, which they declined.

It appears this man files these claims to make money. He could certainly be doing worse things -- after all, he is exposing some serious flaws in the ways companies do business. However, his motives are certainly open to scrutiny.

Source: Bloomberg, "Amgen Whistle-Blower Loses Bid to Challenge Aranesp Deal," Christie Smythe, Jan. 3, 2013