R.V. Doon

DOUBLE BLIND: Whistleblowers-What Would You Do?

Claire Carter, the main protagonist or heroine if you prefer, of Double Blind faces the classic what would you do question.  Most people assume if they run across any “wrong doing” in their field of expertise that they will do the right thing. I know I certainly did.  The majority of people will never have to face this type of gut-twisting scenario.

Claire didn’t want to believe that her best friend fell into a coma while volunteering in a new drug clinical research trial. She didn’t want to believe it because she worked as a clinical research nurse. In other words, she believed in clinical research, she believed it was ethical, but then again, she had to believe her own eyes. But when she learned men came to visit her friend and filmed her deteriorating condition using Google glasses, she jumped into information gathering mode. Claire knew that drug companies follow up on adverse events for years. She left her local job as a CRA (Clinical Research Nurse) overseeing drug trials to becoming a CRA for a CRO (Clinical Research Organization). CROs work for the pharmaceutical companies and oversee the clinical drug trials down at the local level. These monitors travel all over the country to gather information so it can be reviewed. When Claire weaseled her way into overseeing all the clinical evidence: medical tests, blood work results, physical exams, patient’s complaints etc., on EZ eyedrops, she found gaps.

So, she did what whistleblowers have always done; Claire stole their blood and secrets. Her hope wasn’t to make money, but to force the FDA to take a new look at the clinical safety data. This would stall EZ’s chances of getting on the fast-track to prescription. Claire had no idea the pharmaceutical company located in New Orleans was mobbed up. All she knew was that nothing happened, except she got fired and sued for corporate espionage.  She faced the stress of court, legal fees, and the loss of her ability to make a living while the DOJ (Department of Justice) studied the stolen evidence and decided if she gets whistleblower (protected) status. Claire doesn’t know her lawyer cherry picked the data he turned over to the DOJ. Meanwhile the eyedrops are fast-tracked to prescription and her best friend in the world dies. Claire doesn’t give up.

Claire climbs into an air duct in the research building where EZ eyedrops were discovered. She films a live guinea pig dubbed “Neuron Man,” learns her trusted lawyer is in cahoots with the company, and she finds out a hit man is going to “take care of her.”  At this point most people would collapse, but not Claire. She’s motivated by something in her background, something so deep she’s forgotten about it, but it drives her to get the word out about the eyedrops.

Whistleblowers are the modern-day analogy to the David and Goliath story. Whistleblowers risk everything to share a truth they think is important to the rest of society. Some whistleblowers get paid for their troubles, but the majority get scorned or ignored.  I dedicated Double Blind to the whistleblowers because the truth wants to be free. In the story, a tired and frustrated Claire turns to Brad and says, “We’re nobodies and we’re the ones trying to protect the public health.”

What Claire sees as “doing the right thing” another sees as courage.  What do you think of whistleblowers? Love’ em or hate ’em?

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