When plaintiff's lawyers ganged up on GlaxoSmithKline to sue the company over the reported heart-attack risks of its diabetes drug Avandia, a Norristown firm, Internet Technology Partnerships (ITP) helped find potential clients, reports Bloomberg News here. Highlights: "ITP has ties to a network of websites including MedRecallNews, ServicesToLawyers, and Pearl-Shucker.com, among others. These companies do law firm marketing and identify clients for mass-injury lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers.

"They're all operated by Jesse Levine of Norristown, Pa. Levine is not an attorney. His line of work is known as lead generation: Lawyers pay him for the names of alleged victims. He has rivals with names such as All Your Leads Needs, Tort Law Group, Your Lead Caller, Guaranteed Performance, and MassTortROI... The sites are the hidden plumbers of the mass-tort industry, a web of plaintiffs' attorneys, paid expert witnesses, and accountants who annually pursue billions of dollars' worth of lawsuits against companies that make drugs, chemicals, cars, and other products...

"Levine employs 13 people full time in the Philadelphia suburbs and supplements them with $4-an-hour contractors in the Philippines. His workers sometimes gather names and personal data that consumers provide to Levine websites. On other occasions, the telemarketers use lists Levine purchases from consumer survey firms that identify people who've purchased certain categories of drugs. Levine's employees call the prospects, find out if they've suffered side effects, and ask whether they'd like to sue... If a consumer says yes and she's saved her medical paperwork, Levine will sell her name to a plaintiffs' lawyer. Leads go for $500 to $2,000 apiece...

"Levine, who advertises himself online as 'the Ambassador of consumer advocacy,' has had a long and colorful career as a financial consultant and marketer and comes to lead generation with troubling baggage. He served two short stints in federal prison on financial fraud convictions..."