“(Reuters) – Taking on corporate giants can feel like tilting at windmills, but John Kopchinski’s six-year legal battle against Pfizer Inc just made him a rich man.

The Gulf War veteran and former Pfizer sales representative will earn more than $51.5 million as a result of his whistleblower lawsuit against the world’s biggest drugmaker and the record penalty the company must pay the U.S. government for its massive marketing transgressions.

The unassuming Texas resident celebrated his windfall by having a family portrait photograph taken Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to be staying right here in San Antonio in the same house, and my wife tells me when we go to the movies we’re still getting one tub of popcorn — the large tub,” Kopchinski said in a telephone interview.

Kopchinski, appalled by Pfizer’s tactics in selling the pain drug Bextra, filed a “qui tam” lawsuit in 2003, sparking federal and state probes that led to Wednesday’s agreement by the company to pay $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties and plead guilty to a felony charge for promoting Bextra and 12 other drugs for unapproved uses and doses.

“In the Army I was expected to protect people at all costs,” Kopchinski said in a statement. “At Pfizer I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives.”

 

Original article by Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK | Wed Sep 2, 2009

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