The whistleblower who flagged up manufacturing problems at GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) former plant in Puerto Rico stands to receive about $96m (£60m) after the company finalised a pact with the US Department of Justice.
GSK has agreed to pay $750m and plead guilty to charges related to the manufacture and distribution of adulterated drugs, including the anti-depressant Paxil, at its SB Pharmco Puerto Rico plant between 2001 and 2005.
Cheryl Eckard, a former quality assurance manager at GSK who raised the alarm in 2004, stands to receive about $96m from the federal share, according to the Justice Department.
She filed a suit under a law which entitles whistleblowers to a portion of monetary amounts recovered by the government.
Ms Eckard told reporters in Boston on Tuesday: “This is not something that I ever wanted to do.” But she said she felt it was necessary to blow the whistle because of the implications for patient safety.
Her laywers said she was fired by GSK in 2003 after repeatedly complaining to management about conditions at the plant.
Neil Getnick, lawyer to Ms Eckard, added that the success of the case will change the way drug companies run their factories.
Britain’s biggest drug maker said in July that it had reached an agreement in principle relating to quality problems at the plant and would pay about $750m to resolve the allegations.
The resolution includes a criminal fine and forfeiture totalling $150m and a civil settlement for $600m.
PD Villarreal, head of global litigation at GSK, said the company regretted that they operated the Cidra facility in a manner that was inconsistent with good manufacturing practice requirements.
“GSK worked hard to resolve fully the manufacturing issues at the Cidra facility prior to its closure in 2009 and we are committed to continuous improvement in our manufacturing processes,” he added.
By Rachel Cooper
Published: 6:10AM BST 27 Oct 2010
Source: The Telegraph