GlaxoSmithKline Sets Record with 3 Billion Dollar Fine

And the list goes on.  It is no secret that many for-profit health companies in the United States are regularly fined for various forms of fraud, usually cheating Medicare or Medicaid, or jeopardizing patients’ health, or both.  This is the second big one I have read about this  week, the other being cardiac surgeons working for the hospital chain HCA performing unnecessary procedures on up  50%  of patients.

The lower level of for-profit involvement in Canada’s health care system has meant less blatant fraud, though there have been prosecutions and legions of questionable practices involving private companies ‘bonusing’ doctors or patients to increase business: activities which both increase cost and jeopardize care.  It just goes with the turf of paying for private profit to provide what should be a collective benefit.

From the August 6, 2012 posting in the The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Academic Researchers Escape Scrutiny in Glaxo Fraud Settlement

By Paul Basken

Federal prosecutors triumphantly announced the nation’s largest-ever health-care-fraud settlement last month, when the pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline admitted marketing its drugs for unapproved purposes [3 billion dollar fine].

Virtually unpublicized was a key detail: One of the central pieces of evidence in the case was a 2001 scientific journal article listing 22 authors, most of them university researchers, that was actually written by Glaxo-hired authors to overstate the benefits and understate the risks of a highly profitable Glaxo drug.

For years, critics had been pointing out flaws in that study of the drug, the antidepressant Paxil, and warning that the study’s recommendation of the use of Paxil on children had dangerously misrepresented data and hidden information indicating that the drug promoted suicidal behavior among teenagers………

In the settlement announced last month, Glaxo agreed to plead guilty to two counts concerning the false marketing of Paxil and another antidepressant, Wellbutrin, and one count of failing to report safety data about Avandia, a diabetes drug.

To read the full article go to http://chronicle.com/article/Academic-Researchers-Escape/133325/?key=SW53Il9vZXNHYnpgOGtBNW1VYSBrOEt3YCEQbS9zbltcFQ.

For further comment read the post on Fear and Loathing in Bioethics http://loathingbioethics.blogspot.ca/2012/08/gsk-admits-papers-were-fraudulent-but.html.

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