Monday, July 2, 2012

Breaking News: A Record Fine for GSK

I usually don't do breaking news on this blog but was searching the NPR website for something else just now when this story popped up:

The story also causes me to depart from my usual fill-in-the-blank approach to drug company settlements in federal prosecutions, since this one has several peculiar features.

Peculiar feature #1: The $3B settlement is, I believe, a new record, as previous highs have been less than $2B.

Peculiar feature #2: Several different drugs and offenses are involved. It appears to be related to off label marketing in connection with the antidepressants paroxetine (Paxil) and buproprion (Wellbutrin), and failure to report safety concerns with the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia). The specific offense regarding Paxil was marketing the drug for teens, as we have discussed before, such as:

Peculiar feature #3: The news release indicates that GSK actually admitted fault, which most companies don't in such cases. ("Wer're shelling out a billion bucks to get the Feds off our backs, but we deny that we actually did anything wrong.")

More details will probably be forthcoming.

NOTE ADDED 7/3/12: I misspoke above when I said that previous high settlement amounts for fraud charges have been below $2B; Pfizer paid a $2.3B fine in September 2009. See ProPublica's concise summary of recent fraud cases,

1 comment:

Daniel Redwood, DC said...

Not to quibble, but Pfizer's Bextra fine was $5.1 billion. Earlier this year, I interviewed the superb health journalist Harriet Washington, author of Deadly Monopolies. She included a rundown of some of the other all time high penalties.

BTW, I love your blog and read it regularly. I also read your book, The Healer's Power, 20 years ago and learned a great deal from it. Keep up the good work!