Former FDA Commissioner in Massive Conspiracy and Rackeetering Lawsuit

By - April 25, 2016
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The former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg allegedly used the agency to run a huge conspiracy of fraud and racketeering to generate millions of dollars in illegal drug company profits for her husband’s hedge fund company, according to a lawsuit filed in Washington, DC last week.

The federal lawsuit alleges that when she was the FDA commissioner, Hamburg acted in a conspiracy to get a dangerous drug approved even though it had serious and sometimes deadly side effects. She did this, the lawsuit alleges, to financially benefit the hedge fund her husband ran, which had large stakes in Johnson & Johnson, which makes the drug.

The criminal complaint states that the defendants, including Hamburg, operated a criminal conspiracy from 2009-15 to suppress warnings about the drug, Levaquin. The complaint also states that the defendants, including Hamburg engaged in a conspiracy to reap large profits by not disclosing to plaintiffs and the public the full extent of the deadly side effects of Levaquin. The complaint document further alleges that over 5000 people died due to the conspiracy.

Also, while she was FDA commissioner, the income for her husband increased from $10 million in 2008 to $125 million in 2011, and at least $90 million in 2012, which could be linked to the fact that there was a racketeering conspiracy to withhold information about Levaquin.

The lawsuit further alleged that once she was confirmed as Commissioner, Hamburg was the primary instrument that all of the defendants used to keep the conspiracy and racketeering scheme going. She allegedly acted illegally and outside her commissioner authority to suppress information to the plaintiffs and the public that Levaquin was a dangerous drug and could be deadly.

If this information had been disclosed more widely, the financial gain that she and her husband enjoyed would have been much less.

The legal document also states that she appointed J&J officials to major FDA advisory committees and colluded with J&J to suppress information about Levaquin.

Another interesting aspect in the lawsuit is that Hamburg briber her way into into her FDA commissioner role because she made financial contributions to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Side Effects of Levaquin Detailed

The lawsuit states that from 2009 until 2015, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit suffered from mitochondrial toxicity, nervous system adverse events and various multi-system disabilities related to taking the drug. Some of the other side effects from Levaquin include:

  • Tremors
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Nerve damage
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Skin issues
  • Rash
  • Cardiac problems
  • Voice issues
  • Severe balance problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Joint pain
  • Tendon problems

One woman in Michigan has joined thousands of other Americans who have claimed that Levaquin has caused them severe health problems. The woman stated last month that she has been pain every day that she took the antibiotic. She first started taking it for an ear infection and then a urinary tract infection.

After she took the drug several times, she began to suffer nerve damage, digestive problems, paralysis and weakness.

Most recently J&J has been facing this $800 million lawsuit that names Hamburg above. The suit claims that the company hid the side effects of the drug. This legal action happened after an FDA advisory panel found several problems with the whole class of antibiotics and voted unanimously to change the labels on the drugs.

About Racketeering

Federal laws against racketeering first came into being because it was hard for the government to prosecute the heads of major drug cartels. Under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), legislators wanted to address some of the loopholes that let some criminal bosses avoid jail. They did so by avoiding any association with any criminal acts that their accomplices were told to do.

Modern RICO law, as well as federal corruption law, defines many types of criminal activities that derive income from many types of crimes. It is against the law for any company or organization to derive income from any type of illegal business, or to maintain any type of control or interest in those organizations. This type of law helps federal prosecutors get charges to stick against crime bosses who used to be able to claim plausible deniability.

What Are Conspiracy Charges?

It is now a common tactic of federal prosecutors to bring a conspiracy charge against a defendant. This is a broad crime type that can encompass many types of illegal acts. A conspiracy charge is difficult for the defense to escape. In a federal charge, a conspiracy is proven when there is any sort of agreement to do a federal crime between two or more people. One of those people had to do some type of overt act for the conspiracy to stick.

There does not need to be any written agreement of the conspiracy; federal prosecutors can just prove in court that the co-conspirators were involved in a scheme to commit a crime.

Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq

Geoffrey Nathan is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. He is a Boston criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience in felony, federal, and white-collar crimes. Board of Bar Overseers Number #552110