A drug company has been fined $3bn after it bribed doctors into prescribing powerful antidepressants to children. Representatives from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) offered spa treatments and theatre tickets as part of a drive to increase the sales of its drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin.
The drugs were licensed only for adults, but GSK incentivised doctors to prescribe them to under-18s. Wellbutrin was marketed to doctors as a therapy for sexual dysfunction and substance addiction, although it had not been approved to treat either.
In addition, GSK also failed to report correct sales data for another drug, Avandia, which was later found to cause heart attacks.
In handing out the fine, the US Deputy Attorney-General James Cole said: “We are determined to stop practices that jeopardise patients’ health, harm taxpayers and violate the public trust.”
In response. GSK’s chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said the infringements were from “a different era”. The last incident of bribery was recorded in 2007.
(Source: The Times, July 3, 2012).