Grassley zeroes in on pharma whistleblowers

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is on the pharma warpath again. He has written 16 drugmakers, asking them to detail how they deal with whistleblowers who file complaints under the False Claims Act. He's also demanding to know whether they've made any changes since last year, when a law beefed up protections for whistleblowers.

Among the drugmakers addressed were three that recently settled False Claims Act suits: Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly. Pfizer's spokesperson tells Bloomberg that the company has an extensive compliance program and resources devoted to it. According to AstraZeneca's spokesman, the company encourages complaints of wrongdoing through several channels. "Retaliation of any kind is explicitly prohibited under our policies," the spokesman emphasizes. Eli Lilly says it was responding to the letter.

"My appeal to drugmakers is based on the fact that they have a public responsibility to safeguard the tax dollars that pay for their products, and promoting a culture where those who speak up about possible fraud are rewarded rather than retaliated against is one way to fulfill that responsibility," Grassley says in a statement.

- read the Bloomberg story