Endo whistleblower nabs $33.6M from feds for 'extraordinary' work in FCA suit

Former Endo sales rep Peggy Ryan first filed a whistleblower suit--concerning off-label marketing of its pain patch, Lidoderm--against the drugmaker in 2005. Nine years later, the company settled with the Department of Justice. And now, Ryan is walking away with a hefty chunk of change.

peggy-ryan-endo-sm-400x210Endo whistleblower Peggy Ryan--Courtesy of James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich

Ryan will pocket roughly $33.6 million--24% of the government's $140 million share of the $171.9 million settlement, The Legal Intelligencer reports. Under the False Claims Act (FCA), whistleblowers can receive between 15% and 25% in cases where the government intervenes.

The government would have preferred Ryan's take-home be smaller; lawyers argued she should receive 19% of the federal recovery, according to the Intelligencer. But U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly said that her "extraordinary" contributions entitled her to more.

"An examination of the record exhibits that Ryan provided not only the spark for the investigation, but that she nurtured the flame at the darkest times when the possibility of a favorable outcome seemed most remote," Kelly wrote in his memorandum.

Ryan filed the suit--which accused Endo ($ENDP) of pushing Lidoderm, a treatment for shingles pain, for other pain problems--about three years into her employment with the drugmaker. As she told FiercePharma last year, from the onset of her training, her Endo superiors urged her to open the door to off-label dialogues with physicians, distributing off-label studies and conferring messages like, "put the patch where the pain is."

To help catch the company in the act, Ryan spent the last 5 years of her 9-year journey under the instruction of the FBI, wearing a wire to record several days' worth of meetings and conversations. Later, she cooperated with government branches including the Department of Health and Human Services, whose inspector general she helped draft a subpoena.

"Throughout the nine-year period from her first qui tam complaint in 2005 to the settlement in 2014, Ryan continually provided access behind the corporate walls of Endo. Ryan's insider status, conferred by her employment with Endo, enabled the government investigatory team to recover evidence which would have otherwise been unobtainable," Kelly wrote.

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