The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: whistleblower suits

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in False Claims Act Whistleblower Case

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case we noted in June in which amici curiae PhRMA and BIO urged the Supreme Court to limit whistleblower suits under the False Claims Act (FCA). Feel like you were really there by reading the full transcript of the oral argument (pdf). Out loud. In your best Supreme Court Justice Voice.

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PhRMA and BIO in the U.S. Supreme Court: False Claims Act Whistleblowers Beware

As PhRMA and BIO hoped it would, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a False Claims Act (FCA) case that could determine how easy it is to bring a whistleblower suit under the statute.  Noting the prevalence of healthcare fraud cases brought under the FCA, PhRMA and BIO filed a brief as amici curiae, urging the Supreme Court to take the case and to limit whistleblower suits.

Whistleblowers can’t sue under the FCA if their suit is based on information in publicly disclosed federal reports or audits (see 31 U.S.C. §3730(e)(4)(A) if you’re so inclined) since the federal government has access to that information without a whistleblower’s help.  The Fourth Circuit case that’s being appealed holds that only federal reports and audits operate to bar a whistleblower suit, not state or local government reports or audits.  This decision puts the Fourth Circuit in line with the Third Circuit, but at odds with the Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.

In their amicus brief, PhRMA and BIO argued that allowing whistleblower suits based on allegations in state and local reports or audits would open a floodgate of opportunistic FCA litigation aimed at their members, increasing the costs to pharma and biotech companies and diverting resources from R&D efforts.

We will continue to follow the case (Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States ex rel. Wilson, 08-304).  Stay tuned…

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