Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been hit with a whistleblower lawsuit, alleging it fired an employee for speaking up about research mistakes on its popular Nicoderm line of smoking-cessation products.
According to CNBC, Alexandre Selmani, a GSK statistician and researcher, claims the company purposely hid the research errors, thereby engaging in “deceptive” marketing practices.
Selmani, who was hired in 2006 and fired in October 2015, filed his whistleblower claim in New Jersey under its Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The complaint asserts that Selmani discovered mistakes in 2012 which undermined the quality of GSK’s research on NiQuitin. In the United States, NiQuitin is branded as Nicoderm CQ. When these mistakes were brought to the attention of Selmani’s superiors, nothing was done, the complaint alleges.
According to the lawsuit, in 2013 Selmani sent an email to GSK’s chief executive officer explaining the mistakes before the study went public. Selmani allegedly informed the CEO that the mistakes “had the capacity to cause negative consequences and potential health and safety issues for the general public.”
Selmani claims that he consistently received positive performance reviews and salary increases during his employment. This all changed in 2012 when Selmani began red flagging the research mistakes, according to the complaint. That’s when Selmani says he began getting poor evaluations and low pay raises, and his protests continued to be ignored until the studies were made public in 2014.
At one point, Selmani claims that he was told his “future was not with GSK.” He also alleges that his work was sabotaged.
In addition to the corporate entity, several high-level GSK executives are named as individual defendants in the action.