Sunday, July 8, 2012

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...

1 comment:

tal said...

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.