In the largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company, the British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug, federal prosecutors announced Monday. The agreement also includes civil penalties for improper marketing of a half-dozen other drugs.
The fine against GlaxoSmithKline over Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia and the other drugs makes this year a record for money recovered by the federal government under its so-called whistle-blower law, according to a group that tracks such numbers.
In May, Abbott Laboratories settled for $1.6 billion over its marketing of the antiseizure drug Depakote. And an agreement with Johnson & Johnson that could result in a fine of as much as $2 billion is said to be imminent over its off-label promotion of an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.
No individuals have been charged in any of the cases. Even so, the Justice Department contends the prosecutions are well worth the effort — reaping more than $15 in recoveries for every $1 it spends, by one estimate.