Glenn DeMott ’76
Blows The Whistle On Pfizer Inc.
As a successful pharmaceutical sales representative for 19 years who earned national and regional sales awards, Glenn DeMott ’76 had a good life and a career he enjoyed. He didn’t have to rock the boat and alter his life forever. But when he discovered that his employer Pfizer Inc. was misrepresenting and falsifying scientific research and misleading doctors into promoting off-label uses of prescription drugs (among other things), he knew he had to act. He began what turned out to be an almost fiveyear ordeal to blow the whistle on Pfizer’s illegal activities.
The result of his and five other whistleblowers’ efforts is the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. Justice Department history. In September 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay a $2.3 billion criminal and civil settlement to the government. Called “historic” by U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the settlement will return nearly $1 billion to Medicare, Medicaid and other government insurance programs. Going nose-to-nose against the world’s largest pharmaceutical company isn’t something anybody does lightly, and DeMott admits that the prospect scared him at times. But he says his strong moral upbringing and his scientific training at Wittenberg as a biology major inspired him to do the right thing.
“It is unacceptable to me to violate the physician-patient relationship,” he says. “Risks to patient safety were involved and patient lives were
involved. I refused to participate.”
DeMott first reported his concerns to Pfizer about federal compliance violations, but instead of action, he was fired. DeMott met with federal agents and disclosed Pfizer’s illegal kickbacks to doctors and its unlawful marketing of the prescription drugs Bextra, Celebrex, Lyrica, Relpax, Depo-Provera and Geodon. These Pfizer actions caused false claims to be submitted to government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. “Nothing seemed to stop even after I reported it,” he says. “My greatest fear was that nothing would ever get done.”
DeMott credits Wittenberg professors Ronald deLanglade, David Mason and Howard Curry not only with instilling in him a strong sense of ethics and scientific integrity, but also with training him to learn a great deal of scientific research and retain it accurately.
The ordeal has taken its toll on DeMott, and today he says he is “slowly winding down” from the experience. While he hopes to take a vacation soon, his strong sense of civic duty still compels him to volunteer locally. But he may not be done with the big-time yet – he is interested in testifying before a Senate committee investigating fraud in the health care arena