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A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million

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  • A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million

    Former Pfizer stem cell researcher takes infection, wrongful termination claims to court
    From: NewsCore March 15, 2010 7:03PM Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Print Email Share Add to Digg Add to Add to Facebook Add to Kwoff Add to Myspace Add to Newsvine What are these? A FORMER Pfizer molecular biologist is taking her claims about wrongful termination and exposure to a virus that causes her intermittent paralysis to federal court this week, an American newspaper reports.

    Becky McClain, who worked in stem cell research at a Pfizer lab believes she was inadvertently exposed to a virus that a colleague was working on in 2002 or 2003, which has affected her potassium and leads to complete paralysis as often as 12 times a month, according to The Hartford Courant reported.

    She says she was fired for complaining to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the lab?s safety following her exposure to the virus.

    The company disputes Ms McClain?s claims saying they fired her in 2005 when she wouldn?t come into work.

    While Ms McClain is seeking damages, the newspaper reports that medical experts and organisations concerned about safety in genetic engineering have an interest in using Ms McClain?s claims as evidence that regulations of laboratory practices aren?t keeping up with the fast-moving research.

    "If a worker in a plant as sophisticated as Pfizer is becoming infected with a genetically engineered virus, then I think the potential is everywhere," Jeremy Gruber, president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, told The Hartford Courant.

    In 2009, Ms McClain spoke at a San Francisco Workers Memorial Day event about her concerns over the lack of safety and proper oversight.

  • #2
    Re: Researcher sues Pfizer, claiming she was accidentally infected with genetically engineered virus in lab,6732326.story

    Former biologist's case against Pfizer in court
    Health and Safety at Work
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    XGroton Associated Press

    March 14, 2010
    E-mail Print Share Text Size

    HARTFORD, Conn.
    Opening testimony is scheduled in the lawsuit of a former Pfizer biologist who claims she was illegally fired for claiming she was exposed to a genetically engineered virus.

    Deep River resident Becky McClain alleges she should have been protected under whistle-blower laws after exposing her complaint, in which she said a former colleague at the Groton lab exposed her to a virus that causes intermittent paralysis.

    Pfizer denies her allegations, saying she raised them only after she was fired in 2005 for refusing to come to work. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed McClain's complaint against Pfizer, which defends its safety practices.

    McClain is seeking unspecified damages in the court case, for which testimony is scheduled to start Monday in U.S. District Court in Hartford.


    • #3
      Re: Researcher sues Pfizer, claiming she was accidentally infected with genetically engineered virus in lab


      McClain, of Deep River, suspects she was inadvertently exposed, through work by a former Pfizer colleague in 2002 or 2003, to an engineered form of the lentivirus, a virus similar to the one that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Medical experts working for McClain believe the virus has affected the way her body channels potassium, leading to a condition that causes complete paralysis as many as 12 times a month.


      Lentivirus (lenti-, Latin for "slow") is a genus of slow viruses of the Retroviridae family, characterized by a long incubation period. Lentiviruses can deliver a significant amount of genetic information into the DNA of the host cell, so they are one of the most efficient methods of a gene delivery vector. HIV, SIV, and FIV are all examples of lentiviruses.


      • #4
        A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million

        "...The jury in the United States District Court in Hartford did not actually address whether the virus had caused the paralyzing illness from which the scientist...

        But the jury ruled that Pfizer had violated laws protecting free speech and whistle-blowers by retaliating against Ms. McClain, who worked for the company from 1996 through 2005...

        She now suffers from a potassium deficiency that causes sporadic and temporary paralysis, which she says she believes was caused by a genetically engineered virus being used by a co-worker..."


        • #5
          Re: A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million