Employees in the pharmaceutical industry with information supporting theories that companies are knowingly marketing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to treat all levels of depression even though they are aware that the drugs are only effective in patients with severe depression.
These individuals may be able to file a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the government and collect 15% to 25% of the recovered damages.
SSRI Pharmaceutical Companies
SSRIs are one of the most expensive and frequently prescribed drugs in the country, and are often paid by Medicaid and Medicare, government health programs for low-income, disabled and elderly citizens. Companies that acquire government funds through fraudulent activity may be held liable through a False Claims Act lawsuit, in which a whistleblower files an action on behalf of the government and stands to receive a portion of the recovery.
Recent research has revealed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil and Prozac are only effective in treating patients with severe depression. These drugs are expensive and frequently prescribed to patients with all levels of depression, many of whom receive their health coverage through Medicaid or Medicare. If the research holds true, and pharmaceutical companies are knowingly marketing essentially ineffective drugs, a False Claims Act could be made in instances when government funds were used to pay for the medication.
A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that using antidepressants in patients with mild to moderate depression was essentially no better than using a placebo pill. The research, which examined the results from six antidepressant trials that included mild and moderate cases of depression, revealed that the drugs were only effective in patients with very severe forms of the mental health disorder. Though often excluded from industry-sponsored trials, patients with mild depression are often the ones who seek out professional help, though it is unknown exactly how many patients on antidepressants have less severe forms of the disease. However, one study cited by researchers revealed that approximately 71% of patients looking to treat their depression had a milder form.
Many patients who elect to take prescription drugs to treat their depression use Medicare or Medicaid, government programs which provide medical services to the low-income, elderly and disabled. If government funds are being used to pay for these drugs, pharmaceutical companies could be accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud if they are knowingly selling drugs to people who receive no benefit from them. To hold these companies accountable for their actions and to help recover taxpayer dollars, a False Claims Act lawsuit, also known as a Qui Tam or whistleblower claim, can be filed by a private citizen on behalf of the government. Such a claim cannot be made, however, without the assistance of a worker in the pharmaceutical industry who is aware of potentially fraudulent activity. If you know of a pharmaceutical company that is knowingly marketing SSRIs to patients who receive no benefit, you may be able to help put an end to this form of fraud and receive a portion of the government’s recovery.