Wednesday, July 04, 2012


I have just read the BBC news article this morning that GSK had been found guilty by the US government of committing fraud. GSK has admitted guilt and have settled the case out of court with a USD 3 Billion settlement. Besides the fine, GSK also consented to be monitored by the US government for 5 years.

They were guilty of "off label marketing" of two psychiatric drugs Paxil and Wellburtin. from what I can understand, these drugs were meant for adults and they promoted it " off label" to children and adolescent. They were also guilty of concealing from the US FDA details on the dangers of the diabetes drug Avandia. They knew of the dangers from their studies, hide the deatils from the USA FDA, won approval, and when the FDA found out, GSK had to withdraw the drug.

I quote, "The sales force bribed physicians to prescribe GSK products using every imaginable form of high-priced entertainment, from Hawaiian vacations [and] paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours, to tickets to Madonna concerts," said US attorney Carmin Ortiz, end of quote.
Now this is bad.

Besides GSK being guilty, and am also aware that many other drug companies, do their "on label" marketing using the same tactic of sending doctors / physicians and surgeons, on expensive paid trips, and holidays. Some "big tag" customers even go on shopping spree on the drug company.
It got so bad that the pharmas have now got a code of conduct about this form of marketing. However, the crime still goes on. I am aware that "big tag" customers are still entertained with such privileges, although the "less big" customers have been routinely denied.

But this looks bad for GSK. I am rather upset, because some patients have died from the cardiac dangers of Avandia, before it was withdrawn. I had a few patients on Avandia, but the moment the news broke that Avandia could have cardiac dangers, I withdrew them and change them to other oral hypoglycemics.

I am aware that during the H1Ni scare in Malaysia in 2010, the Ministry of Health bought a lot of Flu vaccines and Cervarix vaccines from GSK, and GSK also announced the setting up of a regional center in Malaysia. Now that it is clear that GSK was unethical in its practice in USA, I wonder whether they were ethical in their dealings with the Malaysian government.

One wonders. It does involve a large sum of money.

No comments: