In the healthcare fraud case that was filed against drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, the whistleblowers who helped lawmakers build their case will receive a large cash award. Current reports are showing that they will split about $250 million dollars.
Blair Hamrick, Thomas Gerahty, Matthew Burke and Greg Thorpe — all former Glaxo employees — each will receive a share of the $3 billion dollar settlement that Glaxo reached as part of its plea deal in the healthcare fraud case made against it. Of the charges filed against Glaxo, one of them includes the illegal marketing of the company’s drugs like Paxil. While numerous companies are often accused of the same practice in drug injury lawsuits filed by patients, it is rare for the drug companies to be charged with a crime over it. In this case, Glaxo was charged with healthcare fraud. The settlement agreement penalty that the company eventually reached is the highest of its kind in history.
Another charge in the case against Glaxo was that the company illegally promoted Paxil, which is a dangerous SSRI class antidepressant medication, to children from April 1998 to August 2003. This is significant since Paxil isn’t FDA approved to treat anyone under the age of 18. Paxil and other SSRI medications like Effexor have been linked to serious and potentially deadly side effects which include violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. The drug has also been linked to birth defects (PPHN, cleft palate and heart, lung and brain defects) in babies whose mothers take the drugs while pregnant.
Due to the harmful side effects of Paxil, Glaxo has had numerous failure to warn lawsuits filed against it by former Paxil patients who have claimed that the company did not properly warn them or healthcare officials of the dangers linked to Paxil before they started taking it. The company’s guilty plea may just be the smoking gun that helps other former Paxil patients win their lawsuits.