Just before U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made a self-congratulatory speech about how her department helped to get back billions of dollars from health care fraud, Glaxo’s U.S. Pharmacy leader spoke about the current fraud trend by asking the large crowd of pharmacy executives and lawyers, “What’s going on?”
Deidra Connelly from Glaxo used Sebelius’ speech as a chance to get attention away from all of the criticism that has poured in on Glaxo after the many investigations by the FBI, including looking into adulterated Paxil at Glaxo’s Cidra, Puerto Rico plant. But she did not totally skirt Glaxo’s problems.
“My own company has borne its share of allegations and has been in the news lately for settlements and legal charges,” Connelly said.
That’s an understatement, considering that the U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed Glaxo under accusations of improper marketing and hiding clinical test information concerning Avandia and Paxil. Not to mention that various state attorneys general offices investigated the company civilly, as well. In just 2010 alone, Glaxo paid up to $1 billion in various fines and settlements, including the $750 million settlement for the claims made against them by a whistleblower at the Cidra plant.
While Connelly didn’t go into details when she gave her speech, she did manage to ask “What went wrong?” The answer to that question seems simple: Just about everything that could go wrong for Glaxo did go wrong.
As a result of many poor decisions, Glaxo’s most popular drugs are now subject to a countless number of lawsuits. Avandia (used to treat type 2 diabetes) was basically taken off the market in the United States and Paxil is still battling lawsuits of its own. Plaintiffs allege that Glaxo knowingly hid adverse side effects from the public and the bad manufacturing practices that happened at the Cidra plant are just astounding. Recently the whistleblower in that case went on the news show 60 Minutes, drawing even more bad press to Glaxo. While Glaxo tries to fix what went wrong, the company is going to have to become almost perfect if it wants to shake its bad reputation and convince the public to trust the company again.