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A Look at the Largest Pharmaceutical Lawsuit in History


Much like sports stations that are replaying some of the most exciting games of all time amid the indefinite coronavirus shut down, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the largest pharmaceutical settlement in history.

Before we dig into this, pharmaceutical lawsuits are not filed under a theory of medical malpractice, but rather product liability. These lawsuits often involve medical technology, including prescription drugs, produced by major pharmaceutical companies.

The largest settlement of all time went against GlaxoSmithKline for $3 billion. Below, we’ll take a look at the case.

The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Lawsuits 

The year was 2012 and America was just off the heels of the Great Recession spurred forth by the housing collapse. GSK was accused of illegally advertising their medications, failing to report on serious interactions, and defrauded Medicaid out of millions by falsely reporting drug prices to avoid paying rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.

What does this mean? Essentially, GSK attempted to promote their antidepressants (Paxil, Wellbutrin, among others) for off-label purposes. They also filed misleading reports on treatment guidelines, misrepresented the drug’s safety, and paid kickbacks to doctors who promoted the drugs.

GSK was forced to pay $2 billion to satisfy civil liabilities and $1 billion in fines. GSK pleaded guilty to all charges leveled by the numerous regulatory agencies that exist to protect consumers from fraudulent claims or predatory marketing.

The Paxil Lawsuits 

Paxil is a depression and anxiety medication that is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and other psychiatric conditions, but the drug has been shown to increase suicidal thoughts in patients under the age of 18 and thus is not prescribed. Paxil is thus not approved for use by anyone who is under 18. Nonetheless, GSK illegally marketed the drug to children even though the FDA never approved the medication for pediatric use.

On top of this, GSK appears to have participated in preparing a journal article that misreported a clinical trial during which Paxil was tested on patients under 18 years of age. GSK failed to make data available that seemed to prove just the opposite. GSK was very aggressive in promoting the drug to adolescents. They sponsored dinner programs, lunch programs, spa programs and more to market the drug to children and doctors. GSK pleaded guilty to misbranding Paxil.

Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you’ve been injured by a dangerous drug or a doctor who prescribed a drug that caused you injury, call the St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorney at Masterson & Hoag, P.A. to schedule a free consultation today.




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