British drug manufacturer pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges
GlaxoSmithKline Plc accused of breaking U.S. laws in marketing drugs
British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline Plc has agreed to plead guilty to
misdemeanor criminal charges. The drug maker has agreed to pay $3
billion to settle what is being called the largest case of healthcare
fraud in U.S. history.
The drug maker pushed the drug Wellbutrin for uses it was not approved for, such as weight loss and treatment of sexual dysfunction.
The substantial cash penalty and civil fine will be the largest penalty ever paid by a drug company Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said.
"Let me be clear, we will not tolerate health care fraud," Cole said at the Justice Department. Cole declined to say whether any company executives were under investigation.
Guilty pleas in cases of alleged corporate misconduct are exceedingly rare. The company's guilty plea and sentence will now need to be approved by a federal court in Massachusetts.
"For far too long, we have heard that the pharmaceutical industry views these settlements merely as the cost of doing business," Stuart F. Delery, head of Justice's civil division, said at the news conference.
"That is why this administration is committed to using every available tool to defeat health care fraud."
Among other charges, GSK targeted the antidepressant Paxil to patients under age 18 when it was approved for adults only.
The drug maker also pushed the drug Wellbutrin for uses it was not approved for, such as weight loss and treatment of sexual dysfunction.
As part of the campaign, the company distributed a misleading medical journal article, providing doctors with expensive resort vacations, European hunting trips, high-paid speaking tours and even tickets to a Madonna concert.
In addition, GSK failed to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety data about its diabetes drug Avandia, in violation of U.S. law, prosecutors said.
Officials say the misconduct continued for years beginning in the late 1990s and continued, in the case of Avandia's safety data, through 2007.
The charges are "unprecedented in both size and scope," Cole says, the number two official at the U.S. Justice Department.
The settlement includes one billion dollars in criminal fines and two billion dollars civil fines.
Among the largest settlements made by leading drug makers was Pfizer Inc. paying $2.3 billion to settle allegations it improperly marketed 13 drugs in 2009, and when Eli Lilly and Co. said it would pay $1.42 billion to settle probes into selling the Zyprexa schizophrenia drug for unapproved uses the same year.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: GlaxoSmithKline, Avandia, fines, Wellbutrin
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