Pfizer, Big Pharma Ramp Up Lobbying to Sink Law Aimed at Protecting Whistleblowers

Pfizer, Big Pharma Ramp Up Lobbying to Sink Law Aimed at Protecting Whistleblowers

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by The Defender

Pfizer and other pharmaceutical industry players are stepping up lobbying efforts in hope of defeating proposed legislation intended to strengthen protection for whistleblowers, The Intercept reported. Pfizer has hired a well-connected lobbyist, Hazen Marshall, and the law firm Williams & Jensen, to lobby against the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021.

The legislation, introduced in July, would expand key aspects of the existing False Claims Act  by strengthening the original law’s anti-retaliation provisions, and by installing new safeguards against industry-level blacklisting of whistleblowers seeking employment.

The False Claims Act, which dates back to the Civil War, rewards whistleblowers who file anti-fraud lawsuits against contractors on behalf of the government. The law, originally enacted in response to defense contractor fraud during the Civil War, has to date returned $67 billion to the U.S. government.

Merck, AstraZeneca, Amgen and Genentech also oppose the proposed legislation, according to The Intercept.

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Other groups opposing the legislation include the American Hospital Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Healthcare Leadership Council, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America and the American Bankers Association. National Whistleblower Center, the Project on Government Oversight, the Government Accountability Project and Taxpayers Against Fraud support the amendment.

Pfizer’s lobbying efforts follow on the heels of a recent investigation based on information provided by a whistleblower who alleged Pfizer’s COVID vaccine phase 3 clinical trial was deeply flawed. The whistleblower, Brook Jackson, was directly involved in the trial as an employee of a company hired by Pfizer to conduct the trial.

In October, Project Veritas released a recording exposing three Pfizer officials, including Nick Karl, a scientist directly involved with Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, revealing that natural immunity provides superior protection compared to the vaccine.

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Remarking on Pfizer and Big Pharma’s lobbying against the proposed legislation, investigative reporter Jon Rappoport told The Defender: “Weakening whistleblower laws, in order to shield corporations from having to pay huge fines, is in itself, a business. It involves lobbyists, lawyers, political campaign fundraisers — all the people who can influence legislators and create legal precedents that judges will feel bound by.

“At the heart of this enterprise is the notion that government contractors (corporations) should reside in a universe where accountability for crimes doesn’t exist. Weakening whistleblower laws is a business that seeks to prove the business of America is business.

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Comedian Russell Brand also weighed in on Big Pharma’s push to avoid transparency: “The first thing a person would think is because you’ve got something you’ve done that you are ashamed of, that you’re trying to hide, that if people find out, they wouldn’t trust you or spend money on your products.

“They certainly wouldn’t let you in a position where you’re able to profit at large from mandated proceeds.

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Pfizer is no stranger to the False Claims Act. Under a 2009 settlement, the pharma giant paid $2.3 billion in fines — the largest healthcare fraud settlement in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) — stemming from allegations of illegal marketing of off-label products not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Other major pharmaceutical companies have also paid hefty fines under the False Claims Act. For instance, in February 2008, Merck agreed to a $650 million settlement to resolve claims of fraudulent price reporting to Medicaid and other government health programs, and payment of kickbacks to healthcare providers.

And in April 2010, AstraZeneca agreed to a $520 million settlement to resolve charges of illegal marketing regarding its antipsychotic drug Seroquel.

by Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D

Originally published by The Defender – Children’s Health Defense

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