July 3rd, 2012

GlaxoSmithKline settles drug-marketing case for $3 billion

By William D'Urso
Los Angeles Times

GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of the popular depression drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin, agreed to plead guilty to federal charges and pay $3 billion in the largest healthcare-fraud settlement in U.S. history.

The British pharmaceutical giant agreed to pay a nearly $1-billion fine for illegally marketing and promoting a number of well-known products for uses not approved by federal drug regulators, the U.S. Justice Department said Monday. The company will pay an additional $2 billion to settle allegations in connection with its sales, marketing and pricing practices on the state and federal level.

“Today’s multibillion-dollar settlement is unprecedented in both scope and size. It underscores this administration’s firm commitment to protecting the American people and holding accountable those who commit healthcare fraud,” James Cole, U.S. deputy attorney general, said at a news conference in Washington.

Critics of the settlement said the investigation did not go far enough. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group issued a statement in which its director, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, called for more aggressive enforcement by federal regulators.

“Until more meaningful penalties and the prospect of jail time for company heads who are responsible for such activity become commonplace, companies will continue defrauding the government and putting patients’ lives in danger,” he said.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-glaxo-settlement-20120703,0,7588461.story

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