Fined $3 Billion for Illegal Sales and Marketing of Drugs…but it’s just the cost of doing business / NY Times

From the NY Times:

In the largest settlement
involving a pharmaceutical company, the British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline
agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for
promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report
safety data about a top diabetes drug, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
The agreement also includes civil penalties for improper marketing of a
half-dozen other drugs…

No individuals have been
charged in any of the cases.
Even so, the Justice Department contends the
prosecutions are well worth the effort — reaping more than $15 in recoveries
for every $1 it spends, by one estimate.

But critics argue that even
large fines are not enough to deter drug companies from unlawful behavior. Only
when prosecutors single out individual executives for punishment, they say,
will practices begin to change.

“What we’re learning is that
money doesn’t deter corporate malfeasance,” said Eliot Spitzer, who, as New
York’s attorney general, sued GlaxoSmithKline in 2004 over similar accusations
involving Paxil. “The only thing that will work in my view is C.E.O.’s and
officials being forced to resign and individual culpability being enforced.”

Despite the large amount, $3
billion represents only a portion of what Glaxo made on the drugs.
Avandia, for
example, racked up $10.4 billion in sales, Paxil brought in $11.6 billion, and
Wellbutrin sales were $5.9 billion during the years covered by the settlement,
according to IMS Health, a data group that consults for drugmakers.

“So a $3 billion settlement
for half a dozen drugs over 10 years can be rationalized as the cost of doing
business,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Burns and others have
said that to institute real change, executives must be prosecuted criminally or
barred from participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, an action
known as “exclusion.”

This has occurred in only a
handful of cases, and rarely in a case involving a major pharmaceutical
company. In 2011, four executives of the medical device company Synthes were
sentenced to less than a year in prison for conducting clinical trials that
were not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

That same year, the former
chief executive of K.V. Pharmaceutical was sentenced to 30 days in jail and
fined $1 million for selling misbranded morphine tablets. The previous year,
the Department of Health and Human Services excluded him from doing business
with the federal government…

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10 years ago

Not only were no individuals charged, if you read the Reuters article you'll find GSK pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour. This allows them to continue selling their toxic, overpriced wares to Medicare and Medicade from which they would otherwise have been excluded by law.

So, the fix was in and the Justice Department (so-called) proves once again how they aid and abet.

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