GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga — Victims of the same controversial medicine blamed for a Gwinnett County man's death are suing the former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
Consumer investigator Jim Strickland exposed last year mounting evidence of the drug Levaquin's dangerous side effects.
The lawsuit says while Johnson & Johnson made the drug, former Food And Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg's
husband made money off J & J stock.
"The head of the FDA owning, either directly or indirectly, substantial stock in that drug company? The conflict is insurmountable," said Decatur pharmacuetical watchdog attorney Roger Orlando.
A suit filed by Los Angeles attorney Larry Klayman, a graduate of Emory Law School, claims at one point during Hamburg's tenure, her husband's hedge fund held $500 million dollars in J & J stock.
"It sounds like now there's so many questions and it sounds like she was in it for the money, not so much the welfare of people, if this is true," said Kathy Dannelly of Gwinnett County.
Dannelly's husband, Chris, died three years ago after only three pills of Levaquin generic. She wonders now whether Hamburg did as the suit alleges:
"...actively concealed...the true risks of the drug."
"He wouldn't have been given this medicine, and it wouldn't have had this disgusting, sad outcome," she said.
Hamburg's attorney emailed this statement:
"Mr. Klayman's allegations against Dr. Hamburg are patently false. There is no factual or legal basis for his lawsuit, and we are confident the court will dismiss his claims in their entirety.
For nearly six years, Dr. Hamburg served alongside her FDA colleagues to help protect the health and safety of the American public. Mr. Klayman's accusations concerning that work are reckless and offensive."
The suit is unusual because it's a racketeering case. That section of law is generally used against organized crime.
The suit seeks more than $800 million in damages.