May 10th, 2011

Judge Acquits Ex-Glaxo Lawyer

The Wall Street Journal

A federal trial judge in Maryland on Tuesday acquitted a former GlaxoSmithKline PLC lawyer accused of lying during an investigation of Glaxo marketing practices, dealing a blow to the government’s effort to target individuals in probes of the pharmaceutical industry.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus took the rare move of acquitting former Glaxo lawyer Lauren Stevens without sending the case to the jury. Judge Titus called his summary move to acquit Ms. Stevens a first in his seven and a half years on the federal bench.

“I conclude on the basis of the record before me that only with a jaundiced eye and with an inference of guilt that’s inconsistent with the presumption of innocence could a reasonable jury ever convict this defendant,” Judge Titus said.

Ms. Stevens had been accused of obstructing a U.S. investigation into whether Glaxo illegally marketed the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss, a use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Prosecutors alleged she concealed documents and made false statements to the government.

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