Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has been found guilty of fraud in the way it reported research on, or marketed, on 3 of its medications in the largest settlement against a drug company in US history–$3 billion. The issues involved 10 drugs, and included marketing “off-label” use of the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbitrin and the asthma drug Advair, and not reporting all the safety data for the diabetes drug Avandia.
GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $3b total in both criminal fines and civil settlements with the federal and state governments. The fines will be paid next year.
In a press conference, Deputy US Attorney General James Cole said the settlement was “unprecedented in both size and scope.”
The company admitted to promoting using antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin to treat teens and children. These drugs are not approved for use in youngsters. This is an illegal practice, and it called “off-label marketing.”
Regarding the diabetes drug Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline admitted it withheld data and made safety claims that were not supported. Diabetes causes fluctuations in blood sugar, which damages the body including the eyes, causing diabetic retinopathy.
Civil liability into promoting unapproved use of the asthma drug Advair and 2 other drugs will also be resolved by this settlement.
GSK admitted to bribing doctors, treating them to everything from exotic vacations to big-name concerts, and paying millions to send them on speaking tours. These payments and gifts were kickbacks in return for the doctors prescribing GSK drugs and/or endorsing them.
The investigation began in 2004. The chief executive said its that compliance, marketing and selling procedures in the US have been changed. The drug company agreed to be monitored by the US government for the next 5 years.
Editor’s Note: Most of these misdeeds happened several years ago – even a decade or more in the past. Notice the lag time between when the drugs were prescribed and when the company admits wrong-doing and faces the consequences. Whenever possible, preventing disease usually results in needing fewer medications and therefore reducing your chances of being exposed to drug company misdeeds. Research is showing that good nutrition, exercise, avoiding toxins, reducing or eliminating unnecessary drugs (alcohol, tobacco, street drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs if not needed) and proper nutritional supplementation can reduce disease of the entire body, including eye disease prevention.