Cheryl Eckard Meads was the whistleblower in a landmark case she brought on behalf of the federal and state governments alleging that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline released to the market contaminated and adulterated drug products from its huge plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico. In October 2010, following a six-year investigation by the Department of Justice, GSK paid the government $750 million to resolve Ms. Meads’ lawsuit, including a $150 million criminal fine and felony guilty plea entered by the Puerto Rican subsidiary.
Ms. Meads was a Manager of Global Quality Assurance for GSK. She has a degree in Chemistry and is an expert in managing large teams conducting pharmaceutical quality assurance and FDA regulatory compliance. In 2002 she was given responsibility for oversight of the Cidra plant. She repeatedly complained to numerous GSK senior executives about conditions at the plant and urged that the plant be closed. She tried to alert GSK’s CEO and General Counsel and made a full report to the GSK Compliance Department, but nothing was done. She then reported to the FDA, which executed search warrants at the Cidra plant and later carried out the largest seizure of adulterated drug products in FDA history. In 2005, the plant was placed by the FDA under a Consent Decree, so that nothing could be released without third party approval. By 2009, when the plant was closed, only one drug product was still made there.
Ms. Meads is a Board member of Taxpayers Against Fraud, a Washington, DC-based public interest group that promotes whistleblower laws and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. She is the founder of a real estate company and is engaged in various philanthropic endeavors, primarily in health care and housing, in the US and abroad.
Today Ms. Meads lives in South Florida and serves as one of the Governing Board members of the South Florida Management District, providing water to over 9 million residents and restoring the Everglades through implementation of the Central Everglades Restoration Project (CERP). This project serves as the largest restoration effort of its kind on the planet.