U begins final chapter

The federal government’s suit against the University for allegedly mishandling research grants and profiting illegally from unapproved drug sales will commence today in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.
Unless a settlement is reached, the University stands to lose as much as $60 million if it is unsuccessful in defending the case. Lawyers on both sides of the case declined to comment.
The government contends that the University received nearly $80 million in sales of the organ transplant drug anti-lympocyte globulin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration never authorized the drug to be sold.
In addition, the suit claims the University obtained $19.6 million in federal research funds from the National Institutes of Health that were obtained through false claims.
James Zissler, a University professor of microbiology, claims to have blown the whistle on these alleged misdeeds. Under federal law, Zissler stands to gain 15 to 25 percent of any money the government receives from the case.
The suit is the beginning of the final chapter for the University’s problems in the Medical School stemming from and revolving around ALG.
Four members of the Medical School either resigned or were fired after the University Department of Audits began an investigation into the ALG program in 1989.
In 1995, a federal grand jury handed down 21 indictments against doctors John Najarian, who started the ALG program, and Richard Condie, who was the program director.
Najarian was acquitted of all counts; Condie pleaded guilty to conspiring with Najarian to defraud the FDA, filing false income tax returns and embezzling money from the University.