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GlaxoSmithKline pleads guilty to health fraud

Published Jul 06, 2012 07:05am


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A GlaxoSmithKline logo is seen outside one of its buildings in west London.–Photo by Reuters

BOSTON: A US judge approved an agreement by British drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion for criminal and civil violations involving 10 drugs, the largest health care fraud settlement in US history.    

The amount of money involved led US District Judge Rya Zobel to remark in court that she was having trouble keeping track of the numbers.

GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to promoting the popular antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for unapproved uses.

Government officials said in the original complaint that the company promoted Paxil as safe for children and adolescents, even though the US Food and Drug Administration hadn't approved it for those patients and the company's clinical trials raised concerns about an increased suicide risk.

Prosecutors had charged that the drug-maker promoted Wellbutrin for unapproved uses that included treating attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, obesity, sexual dysfunction and anxiety when it wasn't shown to be safe and effective for those uses.

The company also admitted that it failed to report to the government some safety problems with Avandia. In 2010, the diabetes drug was restricted in the US and banned in Europe after it was found to sharply increase the risks of heart attacks and congestive heart failure. Defense lawyer Geoffrey Hobart and Assistant US Attorney Sara Bloom declined to comment immediately following Thursday's hearing.

A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman referred later to comments CEO Sir Andrew Witty made, including that the company has learned ''from the mistakes that were made.''

When the government announced the settlement, US Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole called it historic, saying it sent a clear warning to any company that chooses to break the law.


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Comments (4) Closed

ali Jul 13, 2012 04:57pm
GSK has made more than billions before the FDA checked them and put fine. Its too little too late. All govt. agencies are same in their speed.
dilawer Jul 06, 2012 07:40am
Improve your reporting. You Newspaper is full of spelling mistakes and incorrect reporting. Make comments section available under each news so people can correct mistakes.
AHKHAN Jul 06, 2012 07:41am
If they do this in USA .One could Imagine how much havoc they would have played with patients in our area .All these drugs are being used in Pakistan .
amna Jul 08, 2012 05:21am
thanks DAWN for bringing such an important news to readers