Government Accountability Project’s Public Health program empowers whistleblowers to protect the public from dangerous drugs, medical devices, environmental contaminants, and threats to food integrity. The Public Health team advocates strong legal and regulatory protections for truth-tellers, presents disclosures to the government and the public, and vigorously defends whistleblowers against retaliation.
To learn more about Government Accountability Project’s work with public health whistleblowers, consult the whistleblower profiles below.
In the modern world, most people don’t have time to monitor everything that goes into the food we eat – to make sure it’s grown and produced safely. The reality is that there are those who refuse to play by the rules we’ve created as a society: to ensure the health and welfare of animals, to protect the environment, to treat our food workers with respect, and to keep the food we eat safe for our families. Luckily, there are whistleblowers who speak out and tell us the truth – even when threatened and intimidated.
Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign was born in 2009 out of a critical need to create an accountable and transparent agricultural industry.
Center for Law & Ethics in Animal Research
In 2019, Government Accountability Project founded the Center for Law & Ethics in Animal Research. CLEAR strives to create a conversation around justifiable research standards by promoting the voice of whistleblowers. Using legal research, education, litigation, and policy, CLEAR will develop and disseminate standards that set a precedent for animal use in research that is both scientifically and ethically justifiable.
Department of Veterans Affairs Whistleblower Rights
Under the umbrella of our public health program, Government Accountability Project is proud to advocate for American veterans through our work with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) whistleblowers. According to its website, the VA is the “largest integrated health care system” in the U.S. and provides care at 1,250 total facilities, among them 172 VA Medical Centers and 1,069 outpatient healthcare sites. In total, over nine million veterans look to the VA for care. The VA’s size and influence means that its various institutional problems like misallocation of resources and delayed benefits have an outsize impact on public health. Government Accountability Project works to help VA whistleblowers make disclosures safely and securely so that the VA can become a more effective and transparent institution.
For more information about our work with veterans, consult our whistleblower profiles.
For information about Government Accountability Project’s work with food whistleblowers, visit the Food Integrity Campaign website.
Dr. David Graham
After Food and Drug Administration (FDA) researcher, Dr. David Graham, conducted a study which showed that the painkiller Vioxx had caused 88,000 to 139,000 heart attacks with a 30 to 40 percent fatality rate, the FDA attempted to suppress his findings. Graham was able to present the preliminary results of his study at a conference, but his supervisors privately criticized him for trying to hurt Merck, the pharmaceutical corporation that created Vioxx. They dismissed Graham’s study as “junk science” and “scientific rumor” and attempted to prevent him from publishing the results.
When Graham learned that his study was going to be swept under the rug, he came to Government Accountability Project for help. With our support, Graham testified before Congress where he identified the FDA’s handling of Vioxx as the worst public health disaster in its history, resulting in a probable 30,000-55,000 deaths. His disclosures not only resulted in Merck pulling Vioxx off the shelves, but also exposed the FDA’s bias towards pharmaceutical industry interests. Drawing from his own experiences as a whistleblower, Graham has become an active champion of scientific freedom and a model for other federal workers.
“Most government employees don’t have Senator Grassley, the media and [Government Accountability Project] to defend their professional lives. Most government workers remain silent when there’s no credible right to defend themselves. Federal workers don’t have free speech rights like Congress created in the Sarbanes Oxley law after Enron, MCI and similar scandals. It’s as important for Federal whistleblowers to have reliable rights when defending American families’ health or lives, as for corporate workers when defending America’s stocks and pension funds.” ~ Dr. David Graham
Dr. Aubrey Blumsohn
In early 2006, Dr. Blumsohn, a senior faculty member at Sheffield University, blew the whistle on data concealment and manipulation performed on behalf of Procter & Gamble (P&G) for the company’s osteoporosis drug, Actonel. The popular medication was primarily used by post-menopausal women to strengthen bones and help prevent fractures. Blumsohn, the intended lead author on a P&G commissioned study, exposed data that actually disproved P&G’s therapeutic claims for Actonel, stating that the company used his name in medical reports despite his not having full access to data sets — information that he repeatedly ask for. Government Accountability Project represented Dr. Blumsohn and set up meetings between him and multiple congressional officials concerned with consumer safety and scientific integrity in order to raise awareness of this crucial issue. Dr. Blumsohn testified before Congressional officials and journalists about data concealment and manipulation.
In 2004, Dr. Hampshire was a veterinarian working for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monitoring drug interactions in animals and had received numerous accolades for her work. Dr. Hampshire discovered that a popular heartworm medication for dogs was killing hundreds of animals. Her analysis and reports pulled the drug off the market. Drug maker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals then conducted a smear campaign against her and used its influence with the FDA to have her criminally investigated. However, Government Accountability Project represented Dr. Hampshire and the Senate found clear instances of retaliation against her. Despite the FDA and Wyeth’s attempts to silence her, Dr. Hampshire was named Public Health Service’s Veterinarian of the Year.
In 1995, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a former Vice President for Research and Development for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, rose to national prominence when he blew the whistle on tobacco companies’ manipulation of research on the effect of nicotine in tobacco products. After leaving Brown & Williamson in 1993, Dr. Wigand cooperated with U.S. government agencies investigating the tobacco industry, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Former commissioner of the FDA, Dr. David Kessler, later recognized Dr. Wigand’s contribution to the FDA’s investigation into the addictiveness of tobacco products. In 1995, Dr. Wigand revealed the extent of the cigarette lobby’s misdeeds when he shared his inside-knowledge of the tobacco industry in an interview with 60 Minutes. Brown & Williamson then filed suit against Dr. Wigand; however, this suit was later dismissed as part of the landmark 1997 $368 billion settlement between the Attorneys General of the 40 states and the tobacco industry. After his landmark disclosures, Dr. Wigand briefly taught chemistry and Japanese at duPont Manuel Magnet High School in Louisville, Kentucky and was named 1996 Teacher of the Year for the state of Kentucky. Dr. Wigand now is a lecturer, expert witness, and consultant on tobacco-related issues. He has been a consultant on cases and tobacco-related policies to governments of countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Scotland, Israel, Malta, Germany, France, Ireland, Iceland, and Japan. Dr. Wigand dedicated himself to anti-smoking campaigns and formed the non-profit SMOKE-FREE KIDS, Inc.
Wigand was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film, The Insider.