A GlaxoSmithKline building in Hounslow, west London in 2013. Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
The office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced today that GlaxoSmithKline, whose U.S. operations are headquartered in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, will pay more than $100 million as part of a settlement of legal claims that they "unlawfully promoted" certain medicines, with $4 million earmarked for Pennsylvania.
Attorney General Kane today posted a "Consent Decree" spelling out the specifics of the settlement and a "Complaint" detailing the alleged unlawful behavior related to the marketing of drugs including Advair, Paxil, and Wellbutrin.
"Today's settlement hopefully will result in a sea change of how pharmaceuticals are promoted and marketed to consumers," Kane said in a statement released Wednesday. "Consumers deserve clear and honest information about pharmaceuticals because they could hurt their health or well-being when misused or mixed with other medications."
Under the settlement GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) did not admit to any wrongdoing or liability under state laws, according to a GSK spokesperson.
GSK will pay out $105 million to 44 states and the District of Columbia for claims arising from the investigation of the marketing of these and other medicines between 1997 and 2004.
Pennsylvania is receiving $4,125,815, according to the attorney general’s office.
GSK settled with the federal government for $3 billion in 2012 over similar claims related to Advair, Paxil and Wellbutrin, as well as Flovent, Imitrex, Lamictal, Lotronex, Valtrex, and Zofran, and previously had changed their marketing practices in 2011.
"GSK is the first pharmaceutical company to commit to fundamental reforms to our business model in the US and around the world by stopping payments to doctors to speak about our products, stopping payments to doctors to attend medical conferences and cutting the tie linking the pay of our sales representatives who call on prescribers in the US to the number of prescriptions issued. We are rolling out this innovative compensation model in the rest of the world," said a statement released by GSK spokeswoman Mary Rhyne.
According to the complaint released by Kane, GSK marketed Advair to asthma patients who did not necessarily require such a medicine, marketed Paxil to adolescents although it had only been approved for adults at that time, and marketed Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, as having positive effects for other issues besides depression such as attention deficit disorder.
The settlement funds will go to Kane's office.
“Per the multi-state agreement, the funds are dispersed to the state Attorneys General to use at their discretion for public protection purposes,” said spokesman J.J. Abbott via email. “We are still determining how exactly the funds will be used.”
With offices in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and King of Prussia, GSK is one of the area's largest employers.