Written by: Courtney Plavac
It seems that money does not deter corporate misfeasance. British drug manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, recently set the record for largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company to date. The drug company pled guilty to criminal charges and voluntarily paid $3 billion in fines for promoting its top-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug. Glaxo's settlement agreement also included civil penalties for improper marketing of additional drugs, such as Wellbutrin and Avandia.
Unfortunately, even fines as enormous as these may not be enough to deter drug companies from this dangerous and unlawful behavior. To make matters worse- this is not even Glaxo's first offense. New York's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, sued Glaxo in 2004 for aiding in publishing a medical journal article that misrepresented clinical trial data in an effort to promote the use of Paxil in children. Similarly, Glaxo was sued for marketing Wellbutrin for conditions such as weight loss and sexual dysfunction when it was only approved to treat major depressive disorder. The company is even willing to withhold safety risks from the F.D.A. in order to ensure sales continue to streamline for their popular diabetes drug Avandia.
$3 billion is yet another slap on the wrist for this devious drug company. Glaxo grossed roughly $27 billion between Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia alone during the years covered by the settlement. It seems these lawsuit settlements are being written off as a cost of doing business and until courts start singling out individual executives for punishments, we can be sure that these uber-rich companies will continue to put their sales in front of your safety.