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GlaxoSmithKline Will Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement

Posted on July 6, 2012

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has pled guilty to criminal charges and has agreed to pay $3 billion in fines for a variety of infractions that include mis-branding and improperly promoting its best-selling anti-depressants Paxil and Wellbutrin, and failing to report adverse data concerning its popular diabetes drug, Avandia.

If approved by the court, this healthcare fraud settlement would be the largest in history and would be the biggest payout ever made by a drug company, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Three criminal charges involving the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia will cost GSK $1 billion. The government accused the drug maker of illegally marketing the anti-depressant Paxil to children and teens. Prosecutors also stated GSK falsely marketed its anti-depressant Wellbutrin as an option to fight substance addiction, to encourage weight loss and to curb sexual dysfunction.

Prosecutors also accused GSK of failing to report data from studies that detailed potential safety risks associated with diabetes drug, Avandia. Its use was severely curtailed in 2010 after it was linked to heart risks.

The other $2 billion in fines involve a civil settlement over the marketing and off-label promotion of asthma drug Advair, nausea medication Zofran, seizure treatment Lamictal and other drugs.

To foster support in the medical community, GSK allegedly used a variety of tactics such as offering kickbacks, trips, and sporting event tickets as incentives to get medical professionals to prescribe and promote its drugs.

The government began looking into allegations against GSK after four whistleblowers came forward to report improper practices the company had been engaging in from the late 1990s to mid-2000s.

Big Pharma means big profits, and this settlement makes it clear that some pharmaceutical firms are willing do whatever it takes to keep those profits rolling — even if it means potentially endangering patients. If you believe you have been injured due to a prescription drug, FL pharmaceutical litigation attorneys at Farah & Farah can explain your legal options. Call us at (800) 533-3555 to schedule a free review of your case.