It's been a good week for the whistle blowers....BD
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A sales manager who "just couldn't abide" by the way Merck wanted him to market the drugs Vioxx and Zocor to doctors took the lonely step of filing a whistleblower suit against his employer. Seven years later, Merck & Co. will pay $671 million to settle complaints it overcharged government health programs and gave doctors improper inducements to prescribe its drugs.
And whistleblower H. Dean Steinke, the Michigan sales manager whose lawsuit led to about $400 million of the recovery, gets a $68 million reward.
Prosecutors also accused Merck of giving doctors and hospitals steep volume-based discounts on Vioxx, Zocor and Pepcid, in the hope that patients would come to rely on them. The company failed to offer Medicare and other government agencies the same price, as required by law, they said.
Serial whistle blower: Doctor who won lawsuit against Merck
He sued Merck in 1999 after finding hospitals were substituting Pepcid, then a prescription-only drug, for the antacids he prescribed — and that a number of patients getting Pepcid, including an uncle, had become confused and agitated.
The company was charging 10 cents a pill to hospitals which made Pepcid prescriptions 85 percent of their antacid total, he said, with the idea that patients would continue taking the drug as outpatients. At the same time, Medicaid was billed $1.65 per pill.