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[e-drug] Glaxo to pay $3 bn for largest health care fraud in US (2)

E-DRUG: Glaxo to pay $3 bn for largest health care fraud in US (2)

[Morris provides his take on the recent settlement and what it means for 
oversight of drug promotion and invites comments from fellow E-Druggers]

Dear e-druggers,
This week started with a landmark news that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to pay 
$3bn  (£1.9bn) which is the largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history. 
This settlement will cover criminal fines as well as civil settlements with  
the federal and state governments regarding concerns about promotion of three 
out of nine products of GSK investigated over period of 1997 to 2004. The 
response and cooperation of GSK in this case is commendable and shows real 
commitment to consumer health. This record settlement raises key questions on 
the level of influence drug promotion has on prescribing patterns, the consumer 
protection interest of Pharma companies and the safety levels being taken care 
of by the Drug Regulatory Agencies (DRAs) especially in developing countries. 
This case raises so many questions including:
1) How are the DRAs in developing country positioned to manage a situation of 
such magnitude without influence?
2) Do our consumer protection agencies and watchdogs have clear understanding 
of the level of harm this could cause especially in cases of medicines with 
narrow therapeutic windows?
3) Isn't it time to raise the bar for ethical practice in pharmaceutical 
products promotion?
You can add your thoughts and questions to this. This is probably a tip of the 
iceberg as we await many unearthed problems with other pharmaceutical companies.

Morris OKUMU
Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda
Tuffnell Drive, Kamwokya
P. O. Box 3774; Kampala, UGANDA

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