As GlaxoSmithKline has recently plead guilty to promoting off-label drug uses and hiding important safety information from the public, many people are wondering what this will mean for other major drug companies as far as product liability and drug injury lawsuits are concerned.
While the controversial antidepressant drug Paxil was specifically mentioned in Glaxo’s fraud case, other prescription drug makers and their wares have been sued over charges similar to the ones that Glaxo just went under fire for. It should be noted that Glaxo’s penalty in the fraud charges amounted to $3 billion, which is the third-largest fraud settlement in U.S. history.
One example of the effects of drug injury lawsuits filed against a manufacturer can be found in numerous lawsuits that were filed against Bayer over the company’s birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin. Thousands of the side effects cases against Bayer maintain that the company wrongly promoted the pills’ off-label uses (like Glaxo has admitted doing with Paxil) while hiding the drug’s side effects. In fact, the FDA intervened by forcing Bayer to remove its original ad campaign that promoted Yaz as a cure for acne and PMDD. Bayer, in turn, was forced to include the pills’ side effects (namely blood clots) in the company’s ads. Other side effects linked to Yaz and Yasmin include heart attacks, strokes and gallbladder disease.
Glaxo’s healthcare fraud may end up being the first in a long series of similar charges filed against other drug companies that many feel is way overdue. Big drug companies just view lawsuits as a part of doing business, but the criminal charges filed in Glaxo’s case may finally get the message across that drug companies have to be honest with consumers about the dangers of their drugs. One thing is certain: Bayer appears to be heading in the same billion dollar direction as Glaxo in terms of settlement agreements over its dangerous drugs, as the company recently agreed to settle almost 1,500 Yaz lawsuits filed against it by women and their families who have been hurt or killed because of Yaz side effects. If Bayer is also charged with healthcare fraud like Glaxo (on top of paying for Yaz lawsuits), the company could be in real trouble financially.