04.07.2012 - GSK has been fined a record $3bn for drug fraud. The UK-based company admitted it had made inappropriate hospitality offerings to bribe physicians.
The pharma giant invited health care practitioners to enjoy deep-sea fishing, hot air balloon rides and golfing days in Hawaii. The company hoped the practice would mean doctors would prescribe more of their drugs. The case, described as "unprecedented in both size and scope" by deputy US attorney general James Cole, included allegations that GSK promoted two drugs for unapproved uses and failed to report safety data about a diabetes drug to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Problems were first flagged up in 2001, when a whistle blower sparked internal investigations within the company. An official investigation begun by the US Attorney's office of Colorado in 2004 and was later taken over by the US Attorney's Office of Massachusetts. With its admission of guilt, GSK agreed to pay $1bn in criminal fines and forfeits and additional $2bn to settle civil claims. "Whilst these originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored", stated Andrew Witty, Glaxosmithkline chief executive, adding that the company has fundamentally changed its procedures for compliance, marketing and selling to avoid further misbehaviour.