Was GSK Settlement Just ‘Slap on the Wrist’?

On Monday, we began to discuss the record settlement British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay at the beginning of the month for illegally marketing and failing to report accurate safety information about defective drugs. However, as author Charles Seife noted in a July 9, 2012, article for the online magazine Slate, “When you sell some $44 billion worth of drugs annually, even a $3 billion settlement is just the cost of doing business.”

Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor calling the settlement “Big Pharma’s $3 billion slap on the wrist.” Reich noted that while $3 billion sounds like a lot of money, GSK made $27.5 billion during the late 1990s and mid-2000s on the three antidepressants at the heart of the case alone.

“The only way to get big companies like these to change their behavior is to make the individuals responsible feel the heat,” Reich wrote.  He called for the US Food and Drug Administration to resurrect its ban on advertising of prescription drugs on TV and radio, adding that there is “no good reason why doctors should be allowed to accept any perks at all from companies whose drugs they write prescriptions for.”

“It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Reich wrote. “Codes of ethics that are supposed to limit such gifts obviously don’t work. All perks should be banned, and doctors that accept them should be subject to potential loss of their license to practice.”

While the US Department of Justice called the GSK settlement “unprecedented in both size and scope,” Forbes magazine highlighted how the company’s stock price still rose 1.7 percent that day. Forbes pointed out that “scary-sounding off-label marketing settlements will not sink pharma stocks … because the companies make far more from sales than they pay when caught.”

People who are prescribed dangerous drugs can suffer severe or fatal health consequences. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a prescription drug, contact our firm today to see what our Orlando personal injury lawyers might be able to do to help.

Wooten Kimbrough, P.A. – Orlando personal injury attorneys



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