It's good that London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), one of the world's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers, is awash in money, because the company is certainly spending it to settle criminal and civil investigations into illegal marketing and product liability matters.
In fact, and as impressive as the nearly $4 billion that GSK has reportedly paid to settle claims involving illegal promotion of Avandia ( the one-time best-selling diabetes medication in the world) and complaints that the drug caused heart attacks and strokes, that amount doesn't come close to the company's total outlays in settling dangerous-drug litigation.
That staggering figure is actually closer to $6.5 billion, when litigation regarding other GSK offerings -- such as the anti-depressant medicine Paxil -- is included.
The global drug maker is undoubtedly anxious that its litigation woes of recent years soon fade into the past tense and cease providing media outlets with easy headline fodder. That hope is well evidenced by a GSK spokesperson's statement that a settlement announced earlier this month that was executed between the company and 37 states regarding Avandia "marks an important step in resolving long-standing legal matters."
That settlement, which was for $90 million, addressed states' claims that GSK was understating heart attack and stroke risks for Avandia users in order to maximize sales. At one time, Avandia brought in about $3 billion annually to GSK's coffers, with that amount dropping by more than 40 percent following promotional restrictions placed on the drug in 2010.
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Source: Bloomberg, "Glaxo pays $90 million to settle states' Avandia claims," Jef Feeley and Catherine Larkin, Nov. 15, 2012