Qui Tam

Whistle-blower ‘Blown Away’ by DOJ Reward Stance

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Cell Therapeutics has agreed to settle a whistle-blower suit that contended the company marketed a cancer drug for unapproved uses, costing Medicare millions of dollars. But the whistle-blower could get nothing.

The company has agreed to pay $10.5 million without admitting the charges by former sales representative James Marchese, who was joined in his lawsuit by the Justice Department.

Typically whistle-blowers can recover as much as 25 percent, but the government contends Marchese is owed no money because he initiated the scheme to mislead physicians and Medicare about the approved uses for the drug Trisenox, the New York Times reports. Justice also claims he destroyed evidence of his involvement, according to its filings in Seattle federal court.

Washington, D.C., lawyer John Phillips, a whistle-blower expert, told the Times that the government stance is highly unusual. “This happens once in a blue moon,” he said.

Marchese says if he did anything wrong, it was an innocent mistake. He told the Times the government’s position that he deserves nothing came as a big surprise. “I was blown away when they said they were going to zero percent,” he said.

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