GSK pleads guilty to largest case of healthcare fraud in US history

Posted on the 3rd July 2012

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3billion (£1.9billion) for withholding data about its drugs, illegally marketing its products, and bribing doctors to prescribe potentially dangerous medicines.

In the landmark case, GSK admitted to manipulating articles in medical journals and handing out cash and other incentives, including pheasant-hunting trips, to sympathetic doctors. The company was also found to have illegally marketed several of its drugs. One charge described how the drugs giant encouraged medics to prescribe the antidepressant Paxil to children, even though it was only approved for use in adults. Known as Seroxat in the UK, the use of the drug in children has since been banned because it can make them suicidal. GSK pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the marketing of the drug, including failing to reveal the existence of scientific studies that showed the drug was ineffective in treating childhood depression. It also admitted to illegally promoting the drug Wellbutrin, another antidepressant, for uses it was not approved, including treatment of obesity and ADHD.

For more information on the damaging practices of the pharmaceutical industry, read our "Making a Killing" report

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