The giant drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, has settled a whistleblower health care fraud case for $3 million. Four whistleblowers got the case going by informing the federal government of the company's wrongful practices. Here's some highlights of the activities covered by the case:
- the company tried to win over doctors by paying for their vacations to Jamaica, Bermuda and various spas
- to promote prescribing Paxil to children got a medical journal article published that misrepresented clinical trial info
- marketed Wellbutrin for weight loss and sexual dysfunction when it was approved only for treatment of depression
The $3 billion is a drop in the bucket for GlaxoSmithKline: it brought in $27.9 billion from sales of Avandia, Paxil and Wellbutrin alone in the time period covered by the settlement.
The giant company did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement but its CEO did offer this mea culpa: “On behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learned from the mistakes that were made.”
The whistleblowers acted under the federal False Claims Act, a law dating from the Civil War era that allows private individuals to sue government contractors and suppliers and to retain a portion of the money recovered from the wrongdoing company.
There is an excellent discussion of the case in the New York Times: Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion In Fraud Settlement.