The United States Department of Justice recently announced the largest-ever criminal and civil settlement involving a pharmaceutical company. British healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC agreed to pay $3 billion to resolve government complaints that the company engaged in a variety of illegal behaviors including promoting a dangerous pharmaceutical to treat depression in teens.
The most recent allegations against GlaxoSmithKline show a pattern of misconduct which has spawned many pharmaceutical product liability cases against other drugmakers.
Many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies illegally market dangerous prescription drugs for unapproved, off-label uses that result in serious personal injuries to patients. Drugmakers often increase their profits by marketing drugs to treat disorders or conditions without any evidence that the drugs are effective. In addition to wasting money on pharmaceuticals that are not effective to treat their medical conditions, patients also expose themselves to the risk of experiencing dangerous side-effects from these drugs.
Department of Justice prosecutors allege that GlaxoSmithKline illegally promoted a drug named Paxil for treating depression in individuals under age 18 despite no government approval for pediatric use. The drugmaker also allegedly helped write and publish an article in a medical journal which falsely claimed that Paxil was effective in treating depression in kids. The article was based on a study which actually demonstrated that Paxil was not effective in treating depression in children.
GlaxoSmithKline also failed to report two other studies that showed that the Paxil was ineffective in kids, meaning that thousands of kids took Paxil despite the potential for serious side effects including suicidal thoughts, chest pain, hallucinations, seizures, bloody vomit and stools, and abnormal bleeding, among other things.
We will discuss further details of the GlaxoSmithKline settlement in our next post.