OxyContin abuse and addiction, and deceptive marketing

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Whistleblower Law Blog has a post about OxyContin abuse and the Purdue Pharma sentencing. Executives of Purdue Pharma were sentenced to probation and community service in drug treatment programs for lying about the risk of addiction and abuse with OxyContin.

The blog also points us to a site run by Ed Bisch, a father who lost his 18-year-old son to death by overdose on OxyContin in 2001. Bisch’s site, www.Oxyabusekills.com, was started the day after his son died, and its goal is to let people know how addictive OxyContin is and how easy it is to overdose.

OxyContin is a strong and long-acting narcotic that was introduced to treat severe cancer pain. Yet shortly after it was approved by the FDA, critics started complaining about how strongly addicted users can become. Critics allege that Purdue was marketing this drug to non-expert doctors (ones who didn’t know how to prescribe it properly) and that they didn’t tell the doctors about the powerful high produced by the drug or the extremely addictive properties.

Executives eventually pleaded guilty to federal charges related to deceptive marketing, and the company paid a $634 million fine.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin – Lawyer License Suspension

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SUPREME COURT OF WISCONSIN
CASE NO.: 2006AP578-D
COMPLETE TITLE: In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Hazel J. Washington, Attorney at Law:

Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant, v. Hazel J. Washington, Respondent.
OPINION FILED: May 30, 2007

David R. Schanker
Clerk of Supreme Court
ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney’s license suspended. Continue reading

Wisconsin Office of Laywer Regulation Public Reprimand With Consent

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SUPREME COURT OF WISCONSIN – OFFICE OF LAWYER REGULATION
Public Reprimand With Consent 2007-OLR-10
Hazel J. Washington, Attorney at Law

Attorney Hazel J. Washington (“Washington”), a Wisconsin bar member since 1988, practiced law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Washington’s law license was suspended at the time of the imposition of this reprimand. On November 3, 2003, Glenda Bailey retained Atty. Hazel J. Washington to represent Terranze C. Sharp (“Sharp”) who was sentenced on August 13, 1991, to life imprisonment for first degree intentional homicide. The initial retainer was for the purpose of reviewing trial transcripts and post-conviction matters in Sharp’s criminal case filed in Milwaukee County, State of Wisconsin vs. Terranze Curtis Sharp, Milwaukee County Case Number 1990CF904071. Continue reading

The story of whistelblower David Welch

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David Welch was the CFO of Cardinal Bancshares, and the first person to file a claim for whistleblower protection under Sarbanes-Oxley Section 806.

The Department of Labor ruled in his favor in regards to reinstatement to his job. But Cardinal refused to reinstate him and appealed to the highest level, and Welch’s case was ruled to have no merit.

Welch says that he raised concerns about the company’s accounting policies and internal controls, and then refused to certify Cardinal’s financial results. He says he was fired for this, but the bank says that he was fired instead because he refused to meet with an independent auditor and company lawyer without his own lawyer present.

The appeals board ruled that as the head of finance at Cardinal and as a CPA, Welch “could not have reasonably believed that Cardinal misstated its financial condition,” and therefore didn’t deserve protection under Sarbanes-Oxley.

Welch now intends to file his case in federal court.

Whistleblowers under Sarbanes-Oxley

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A study of almost 1,000 whistleblower complaints filed under Sarbanes-Oxley has found that none has resulted in a “win” for the whistleblower. Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is meant to give protection to employees of public companies who report wrongdoing. It is administered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Since its inception, 947 whistleblower cases have been filed. 665 cases were dismissed as having no merit, while 126 were withdrawn by the complainant. 138 were settled before the DOL ruled. Only 17 of the cases were deemed to be with merit by the DOL.

Of the cases that proceeded, only 6 cases survived the DOL’s first level of the appeal process, and none have been before the DOL’s Administrative Review Board, the highest appeal level.

Wow. This will surely make would-be whistleblowers think before they complain about wrongdoing at companies. Why risk one’s job and livelihood, when it is likely that the case will be dismissed or lost?

Book Publishing: Putting together the proposal

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I had a winner of an idea for a book on fraud, and I had a willing publisher in John Wiley & Sons. I expected the next step of the process to be putting together a book proposal.

My friend Susan Marshall of Executive Advisor had told me how challenging that part can be. Susan has done several book proposals and has published a few books, and she emphasized how important the book proposal is. You can have a great idea with a bountiful market for the book, but a bad proposal can put a stop to your publishing dreams.

Imagine my surprise when my editor said that I didn’t have to do a proposal. My editor was committed to the project, and would create an “internal proposal” that needed approval from the marketing department and the executives.

The editor was going to do the hard work, and all I had to do was provide key pieces of information.

I developed the outline for the book further, putting in more details about my approach to the various components of fraud detection, investigation, and prevention.

More importantly, I had to detail my platform for Wiley. First I detailed important national clients I’ve worked with, as these may be potential purchasers of the book. Then I detailed my speaking engagements over the last year, as well as those booked for the upcoming year. Traveling the country training and presenting on fraud investigation and prevention as I have is very attractive to a publisher. It demonstrates more potential buyers for the book, and identifies opportunities to promote the book in the future.

I also outlined for Wiley all the publications I’ve written for and the increase in my online presence. I’ve written lots of articles that have been published around the country, and this has played a part in the significant increase in traffic to my website and blog.

Finally, I noted two highly visible and well-respected individuals who would each be willing to write a forward for the book. I also mentioned some promotional activities that I believe will positively impact book sales.

I wrapped it all up with a bow and sent it off. I waited my editor to put together the actual proposal and to receive word back…

Next: Negotiating a contract with Wiley.

Sarbanes-Oxley and informants (and the Overstock.com and Patrick Byrne connection)

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Would it be any surprise if Patrick Byrne was in violation of more regulations applicable to public companies???

Recently, Sam Antar sent emails to the Overstock.com Board of Directors, two audit committee members and Patrick Byrne himself. The emails reported Byrne’s known violations of Overstock’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Various officials at the SEC were also sent copies of these emails.

The emails were published by Patrick Byrne on his blog.

Sam has recently been the target of retaliation by people believed to be working on behalf of Patrick Byrne. And heres what Sarbanes-Oxley says about retaliation against informants: Continue reading