GlaxoSmithKline’s stunning $3 billion settlement for in July for health care fraud once again opens the debate of the viability and safety of the actions of the pharmaceutical drug industry. The settlement stems from claims relating to the company’s unlawful promotion of some of their prescription drugs, including Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia. The lawsuit claims that GlaxoSmithKline published medical journals that were misleading, paid millions to doctors to promote their harmful drugs, and failed to report adverse safety data about the risks of their drugs.
We have already highlighted the plight the pharmaceutical industry has laid on the American people before. In summary:
- Every day, 2,500 individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 abuse a prescription drug for the first time
- More people abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants COMBINED.
- Ever wonder why you don’t hear as much bad news about drug companies? Well the drug companies’ federal lobbying expenditures reaches nearly $300 million annually, easily the biggest of any other industry.
- Pharmaceutical companies spend nearly twice as much on marketing – $60 billion – as they do on research or development.
In light of this settlement, here are the top 10 biggest settlements by the pharmaceutical drug companies.
10. Bristol-Myers Squib (2007) – $515 million relating to allegations of illegal drug marketing and pricing including: 1)knowingly paying doctors to market their drugs, 2)promoted the sale of anti-depressant drug Abilify for pediatric use and seniors 3)price manipulation of their drugs and 4)knowingly misleading its best price for anti-depressant drug Serzone
9. AstraZeneca (2010) – $520 million for violating marketing practices for schizophrenia drug, Seroquel. AstraZeneca was charged with introducing favorable data, and hiding studies that proved the drug increased the risk of diabetes.
8. Purdue Pharma (2007) – $634.5 million for the makers of OxyContin for lying about the addictive nature of the prescription painkiller. Later shown that the drug can produce a heroine like addiction
7. Amgen (pending) -set aside $760 million for illegal and unethical promotion of anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen
6. Merck (2011) – $1 billion for the marketing, and deception relating to Vioxx, which has since been taken off the market. Vioxx was billed to help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Eli Lilly (2009) – $1.4 billion for the illegal marketing of antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, including allegations that they persuaded doctors to push the drugs to children and the elderly. Eli Lilly even urged nursing homes to use the drug to elderly patients in order to minimize “nursing time and effort.” Zyprexa increases the risks of sudden death, heart failure and pneumonia.
4. Abbot Laboratories (2012) – $1.5 billion for its unlawful promotion of Depakote, which is used to treat bipolar mania, seizures and migraines. Abbot was found guilty of promoting the drug for schizophrenia, agitation and aggression, neither of which is was approved for.
3. Johnson & Johnson (pending) – as much as $2.2 billion for the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal for giving kickbacks to a company that provided prescription drugs, Omnicare, Inc., to nursing home patients. Lawsuits further allege that the company hid the side effects of the drug.
2. Pfizer (2009) – $2.3 billion for the illegal marketing of drugs including Bextra, Lyrica and others. At the time it was the largest health care fraud settlement ever. Whistleblowers were scheduled to receive $102 million of the settlement share.
1. GlaxoSmithKline (2012) – $3 billion