Medical malpractice lawyers recently learned that British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and has agreed to pay a record setting $3 billion in fines for the promotion of off-label uses of it’s top-selling antidepressants, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia, as well as for failing to report safety data for it’s number one diabetes drug. The settlement also includes penalties for the improper marketing of at least six other drugs.
In addition to GlaxoSmithKline, other pharmaceutical companies are doling out large sums of money to the federal government for less than legitimate business practices. In May, Abbott Laboratories agreed to a $1.6 million settlement for the unethical marketing of popular anti-psychotic, Depakote. It’s also been reported that a $2 billion penalty will be placed on Johnson & Johnson for it’s off-label promotion of another popular anti-psychotic drug, Risperdal.
Though no charges have been filed on any individuals, the Justice Department maintains that their efforts are reaping benefits in the amount of at least $15 for every $1 spent. Critics, however, argue that while large fines are a way to enforce consequences, these monetary punishments are not serving as deterrents of the unethical business practices of big pharma and that individual executives must be singled out.
“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.”
Large pharmaceutical companies, or “Big Pharma,” as it has come to be called, repeatedly use bribes, unethical marketing, and off-label promotions to boost sales of their drugs. Doing so can, and does, put patients in danger, as well as provides them with medications that aren’t aimed at treating their specific illnesses. If you are a patient that has been injured or negatively affected by a prescription, contact one of the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Messa & Associates. Reach us toll-free by calling 1-888-MessaLaw, or by submitting a free online inquiry.