Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Takes a Thief

From the Chicago Tribune:

“[A national pharmacy chain agreed] to pay $36.7 million to settle charges it routinely overbilled Medicaid for a popular generic antacid drug, cheating federal and state governments out of millions of dollars over more than six years. Prosecutors say the pharmacy chain illegally substituted a more expensive capsule form of the drug instead of the prescribed tablets to increase its Medicaid reimbursement.”

A similar case, involving another pharmacy corporation, was settled for $49.5 million in 2006. The cases have in common a pharmacist who noticed something amiss, contacted an attorney and the rest is history.

All hail this crusading whistle-blower -- an unadulterated hero!

Hmm, not so fast.

Consider that the law provides him with a share of the settlements -- in his case, more than $10 million. Consider that he himself was arrested in 1992 as part of another Medicaid-fraud scheme, the FBI’s Operation Goldpill. He was sentenced with a fine, probation, and temporary suspension of his pharmacist license.

In a novel, would readers still view his whistle-blowing as altruistic? Or as greed? Or as paying a debt to society? It’s a tough call … it’s known as complex characterization.


  1. Detail Muse, I really love your blog. I love the seeds that you plant in my mind with the images you post and the questions you pose. Imagine that you faithfully read a blog by someone who turned out to be your favourite famous author, posting secretly as a nobody to feed a secret need for anonymity? ~ Sky34

  2. Great premise, Sky!