Updated on 8 August 2013
In the last three years, global pharma giants have paid fines to the tune of $11 billion for criminal wrongdoing, including withholding safety data and promoting drugs for use, beyond any licensed condition
Each year big pharma giants end up spending billions of dollars in paying for fraud, misrepresentation of data and other such corruption allegations leveled out against them. In the last three years, global pharma giants have paid fines to the tune of $11 billion for criminal wrongdoing, including withholding safety data and promoting drugs for use, beyond any licensed condition. While GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) paid $3 billion, the biggest fine ever after pleading guilty on three criminal counts in US, Novartis ended up paying $420 million and Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in related scandals.
After the corrupt bribery practices of the British drugmaker GSK's operations in China came to the fore all through last month, many comparisons are being drawn between the old cases and this latest one involving money, sex and drugs.
Here are the six companies and cases that have scarred the pharma industry forever.
GSK $3 billion fraud settlement
Much before the China bribery scandal of 2013, involving British drug major GlaxoSmithKline, the company had come under fire earlier too. This was a scandal that would become the largest healthcare fraud settlement in the US history. The drug maker paid $3 billion for promoting two drugs for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a diabetes drug to the US FDA.
Merck and Mumps
Merck had been involved in fraudulently representing the mumps component of its MMR vaccine. The company was blamed for fraudulently informing the public that the MMR II, used to replace the MMR vaccine Pluserix, is an effective vaccine. However over a period of time, studies had proved that the vaccines' effectiveness are said to be falsified. Reports further pointed out that the Mumps component of the vaccination was ineffective and that the results of the tests carried out on the vaccine have been altered.
Whistleblowers working for Merck had said that they witnessed fraud firsthand when they worked for the pharmaceutical company, between 1999 and 2002, and that they were pressured to participate.
Reports further described a supervisor working for Merck manually changing test results that showed the vaccine wasn't working and then hurriedly destroying the evidence to keep the fraud from being exposed. Further, it stated that the supervisor then lied to FDA regulators who came to the laboratories to check after they were alerted to the problem.
Roche and its medicine safety reporting system
European Medicines giant Roche had been alleged for working with national medicines agencies to investigate deficiencies in the medicine-safety reporting system of Roche.
In May 2012, the UK medicines regulatory body, MHRA filed a report about the deficiencies post inspection. The company had identified about 80,000 reports for medicines that were marketed by Roche in USA that had not been evaluated to determine whether or not they should be reported as suspected adverse reactions to the EU authorities. About 15,161 reports of death of patients were included in these reports but the exact reason for these deaths or a probable link with the use of these medicines was not known.