A former clinical researcher for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant, alleging it fired him for repeatedly voicing objections to flawed studies involving the smoking cessation product NiQuitin and other products.
Alexandre Selmani, who joined GSK in 2006 as a manager of biostatistics for smoking reduction and cessation, filed the lawsuit in Morris County, New Jersey Superior Court under the state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act, which provides protections for whistleblowers who expose fraud and other wrongdoing.
Mr. Selmani alleges that GSK’s testing of NiQuitin oral strips was marred by mistakes and that his repeated attempts to warn the company about the errors were ignored. Subsequently, the drugmaker forged ahead with an illegal and deceptive marketing campaign based on the erroneous tests, Mr. Selmani alleges, asserting that the company’s actions potentially put the health and safety of the general public at risk.
The complaint, filed on Dec. 21, asserts that “Selmani’s objections to and refusal to ratify the studies based on the statistical analysis and the publication of same that was incorrect (which he reasonably believed was in violation of GSK policies and a perpetration of fraud on the public) was the motivating factor for GSK’s retaliatory action against Selmani.”
The lawsuit notes that Mr. Selmani had a sterling record of performance at GSK accompanied by numerous salary increases until his objections to GSK’s allegedly fraudulent actions led to his termination. Mr. Selmani began pointing out to his superiors the mistakes that undermined NiQuitin research and marketing in 2012, but his concerns were ignored.
In 2013, Mr. Selmani emailed a superior informing him of his fears that the NiQuitin study mistakes “had the capacity to cause negative consequences and potential health and safety issues for the general public,” but was still ignored. GSK published the studies the following year.
Mr. Selmani alleges that Mitchell Kotler, the director of biostatistics and Selmani’s direct manager, told Mr. Selmani that “your future is not with GSK.” Mr. Selmani alleges that Mr. Kolter tried to interfere with his work.
According to the whistleblower retaliation complaint, in 2015 Mr. Kolter gave Mr. Selmani a performance review with the lowest possible score, then fired him without any reason, Law360 reported.
“Mr. Selmani was blatantly fired as a result of his calling out mistakes that were being made for NiQuitin oral strips and other products,” Mr. Selmani’s attorney told Law360. “Rather than fix the mistakes, the company just chose to shut him up by getting rid of him.”