Public Safety & Justice

44 States Get $105M in Drug Settlement

June 5, 2014

GlaxoSmithKline PLC will pay $105 million to dozens of states to settle allegations that it unlawfully marketed its asthma drug Advair and the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin.

Under the settlement announced Wednesday, the London-based pharmaceutical also agreed to rules that bar it from paying doctors to promote its products; providing financial incentives that encourage salespeople to market drugs for unapproved uses; marketing drugs using results from inadequate studies or making unapproved claims that a product was "better, more effective, safer or has less serious side effects," according to a statement from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.

California was among states whose attorneys general filed identical lawsuits in local courts. It will receive more than $7 million — the largest single portion of the settlement — after the deal is approved in San Diego County Superior Court.

The state lawsuits claimed that GlaxoSmithKline violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the uses and qualities of the drugs and marketing them for purposes unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration — a practice called off-label marketing.

GlaxoSmithKline did not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the settlement, which is similar to one reached with the federal government in 2012 for a record $3 billion.

Its marketing practices also are under investigation in Britain, China and several other countries.

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