GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3 Billion in Pharmaceutical Whistleblower Case

GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical whistleblower

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay $3 billion in fines to the government in a pharmaceutical whistleblower case.  This is the largest pharmaceutical fraud settlement to date, and brings whistleblower lawsuit settlements to a total of $10 billion for 2012.  Whistleblowers get a share of these settlements as a reward for reporting fraud under the False Claims Act.

The pharmaceutical whistleblowers were four GSK employees, including a vice president and a senior marketing development manager.  The pharmaceutical fraud involved GSK’s conduct regarding Paxil, Avandia, Wellbutrin, and other drugs it manufactures.  To get doctors to prescribe the drugs, GSK paid for luxuries like tropical vacations and spa treatments.

According to prosecutors, GSK also promoted the use of Paxil in children, and helped publish a misleading report of a clinical test.  It was later warned that Paxil might increase the risk of suicide in teenagers.  This is part of a troubling and widespread trend of off-label drug marketing aimed at children.

The government also claims that GSK engaged in off-label drug marketing of Wellbutrin, promoting the drug for treatment of weight loss and sexual dysfunction when it was not approved by the F.D.A. for those uses.

GSK also allegedly failed to report information in had about the safety risks of Avandia to the F.D.A., and overcharged the government for drugs.

Source: NYTimes

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