Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fraudulent Practices by Global Pharmaceuticals

Last week in the UK, while most of the attention was on the banks for misquoting the Libor rate, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the UK’s biggest pharmaceutical company, was fined a record 3 billion dollars by the US’s  FDA ( Food & Drug Administration) in settlement of claims arising from three separate legal cases brought for fraud relating to sales and marketing of nine of their drugs including Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia.

The settlement of the dispute with the US authorities, prompted Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK, to make the following statement: ”In recent years, we have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the US to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity and that we conduct our business openly and transparently."  Only time will tell if this statement is true.

GSK are not to only pharmaceutical company involved in this kind of thing. The US authorities have also in recent years fined Merck, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories billions of dollars each in connection with their drugs.  It does not surprise me, or anyone who read my post in March titled  “ All Prescribed Drugs Have Side Effects “ , that pharmaceuticals are involved in misrepresentation, mis-selling or improper marketing techniques. It is common practice for them, for instance, to understate the side effects of a drug until such time as the numbers of people complaining about it bring it to the attention of the authorities.
Pharmaceutical companies have also been known to bombard doctors with literature about their drugs in order to have them prescribed on a regular basis; some have even gone so far as to offers doctors free holidays if certain targets are hit in the regularity with which their drugs are prescribed. The medical establishments in many countries have known for some time about the unhealthy relationship that exists between the manufacturers of drugs and the prescribers.    
The record fine of 3 billion dollars by the US authorities on GSK only represents a slap in the wrist as the money the company makes from prescription drugs is huge. It is estimated that the company has made more than 30 billion dollars from the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia alone. GSK are only fourth in the league table of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies; the table is topped by Pfizer. A more meaningful way of penalising a company found guilty of fraud would be to jail the senior executives, in addition to a fine linked to the profits they have made in the jurisdiction involved during the period cited in the legal action.   
Drug manufacturers will take fines lightly because they know they have got a monopoly in the market in the treatment of health problems, whereby the alternatives are rarely given an opportunity to be used. This situation is not going to change until such time as doctors are compelled by law to give a patient an opportunity to pursue an alternative course of treatment relating to a health problem, in the many situations where this is a viable option.

If you have anything to say on this post, do so via the comments box below.


  1. The state of healthcare revolves around treating diseases instead of preventing them. Large drug companies want to keep it that way so they can continue to make huge profits. It truely is a sad state of affairs. I can say after spending years on anitdepressants I was finally able to discover that changing my diet was the real key managing my depression and today I can actually say I'm happy. In much the same way you have been inspried, I have been inspired to start a blog ( and talk about it. I hope one day we can focus on disease prevention with diet rather than the use of drugs to unsuccessfully treat a diseast. Look forward to reading more of your blog!

  2. Thanks very much Mandy for your informed comment on issues related to my post.

  3. your post is very good about Fraudulent Practices By The Pharmaceuticals

  4. I am glad that you agree with me that fraud needs to be exposed.

  5. Lots of pharmaceutical companies have been cited by China as trying to bribe their way into their market. One company given special mention by the Chinese is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the UK. Trying to bribe their way into new markets by global pharmaceuticals doesn’t surprise me at all as they have been less than honest with their customers in existing mature markets.