Oh dear

Who would believe such things of Big Pharma?

GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead GuiltyGuiltyGuilty to misdemeanor criminal charges filed by the federal government, saying it will pay $3 billion to settle allegations that the company illegally marketed two drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and failed to disclose safety information on another drug, the Justice Department said Monday.

The agreement, which still has to be approved by the court, amounts to the “largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history and the largest payment ever by a drug company,” according to the Justice Department.

Prosecutors say the British pharmaceutical company promoted the use of the antidepressant Paxil in children, even though it was only approved for adults over 18. The company also promoted Wellbutrin to treat sexual dysfunction and addiction, even though it was only approved for depression. In addition, the company failed to report safety data about another drug, Avandia, the Associated Press reports.

GlaxoSmithKline allegedly went to great efforts to promote the drugs for unapproved uses, including distributing a misleading journal article and providing bribes to doctors in the way of meals and spa treatments, reports Reuters.

The fine will be split, with $1 billion covering criminal fines and forfeitures and $2 billion paying for civil settlements with federal and state governments. The federal investigation lasted seven years.

5 thoughts on “Oh dear

  1. How about some time behind bars for these corporate thugs? Corporations have demonstrated time and again that paying out a coupla’ billion or so in fines means nothing to them—-they’ll just jack up the prices on some other chemicals to make up the difference!

  2. What bugs me is that no matter how Big Pharma behaves, that is no matter how many times or how egregiously they misbehave, everyone– doctors and public– assumes the next drug or vaccination they haul out is something everyone should start taking as quickly as possible.

    Not saying they never do anything good, just that at this point we should be downright suspicious of everything they try to peddle us.

  3. Yep, but note when that occurred. The offense happened in 2002. Starting in about 2004, the pharma I worked for had mandatory training for everyone, even down to the glass washers, about marketing and pushing off label use. They really tried to comply with this, partly because they were under a compliance order.
    But note who was actually doing it. It was the salespeople, who in general are a combination of con men and cheerleaders without souls.
    Anyway, the training was repeated every year for the last 7 years, right up until I was laid off. In 2009, the company disgorged the contents of its warehouses of promotional materials given to doctors. The labrats lined up to plunder 3 semis of laser pointers, bags of pens, hats, T shirts, coffee mugs, cookbooks, wireless mice and tons and tons of other tchotchkes the salesmen gave to doctors. Big pharma is playing it safe. You’re lucky if they give you a pen these days. And the most you’re *supposed* to get as lunch from your pharma rep is pizza. It’s ok if it’s gourmet pizza but the per person expenses have to be very low.
    It’s always big news when one of these settlements gets announced because piling up on pharma is so cathartic. But realistically what this will mean is that research will take a hit for something the sales and marketing division did. Roche laid off 1000 scientists from their nutley, NJ facility last week. It was one of the last pharma holdouts. It is pulling research out of the US and retrenching in switzerland. I expect that Glaxo will soon follow.
    So, celebrate while you can. The research community looks at this with anxiety and sadness. It’s not our fault but we’ll get blamed anyway.

  4. Clark, having worked in pharma for 20+ years in drug design I can tell you that tge research community is committed to creating cures. We are very aware of safety concerns and efficacy. But creating drugs that will work for all people all the time is almost an impossible feat. We do our best.
    I worked on cancer drugs for the past 6 years and I’m very proud of my work. Someday, I hope it will cure someone.
    All I ask is that when you think of pharma that you remember that there are parts of those corporations that are made up of real human beings, just like you, who do things in a lab so you won’t have to. Some of them work with chemical intermediates that have cost them their lives or other organs.
    Never suspect *them*. Suspect the people who collaborate with the finance industry who have destroyed your trust and our careers in pursuit of shareholder value.

  5. Could the research done by profit making corporations be done by non-profit making corporations? Say government funded research facilities. Would the people carrying on the research in ‘not for profit’ entities do a less effective job? Would they be lazier and less committed to their work? Would it cost less or more to conduct research in a ‘not for profit’ entity? Would the general public be just as well served with the cures and medications discovered by ‘not for profit’ research entities? Is Capitalism really the answer to our problems?

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