20Jul (Progressive Radio Network) – One of the biggest news stories relating to health right now is the finalization of the biggest lawsuit yet by the American government against a pharmaceutical company. On July 2, the British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline plead guilty to three counts of criminal misdemeanor and other civil liabilities relating to the prescription drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia, and agreed to pay a total of $3 billion in fines–$1 billion to settle criminal charges, and $2 billion to cover civil liabilities.
The payment is the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history, and the largest fine ever paid by a drug company.
In 2009, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion to settle similar charges1, and as recently as May, Abbott Laboratories settled charges over wrongful marketing of the anti-seizure drug Depakote to the tune of $1.6 billion2. The company had illegally promoted the drug to health care providers for off-label use in seniors with dementia.
And, according to a July 6 report in the Huffington Post3, a federal investigation into wrongful marketing by Johnson & Johnson of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal is also wrapping up and may result in a fine of anywhere between $1.6 to 2 billion.
According to FiercePharma’s recent compilation of the Top 11 marketing settlements by the drug industry over the past 10 years4, drug makers have agreed to pay more than $11 billion in fines for their illegal marketing shenanigans over the past decade! But the worst may still lie ahead: more than 900 whistleblower lawsuits were filed in the last year alone and historically about 10 percent of whistleblower claims involve drugmakers.
While these fines sound like staggering amounts of money to most people, a fundamental problem has now become blatantly and painfully apparent, and that is that fines don’t work. They simply do not curtail criminal behavior when applied to faceless corporations. They’ve become little more than an expected annoyance that are calculated into the price of doing business.
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