Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

Friday, November 04, 2011

Dissecting Glaxo's "Marketing Practices" Statement



GlaxoSmithKline have released a press statement on their website in reaction to the latest news that they have been fined $3 billion [yes, that's billion] over the marketing and selling and their products such as; Wellbutrin [Also known as Zyban] Paxil [Also known as Seroxat, Aropax] and Avandia.

The press release, which features a statement from Glaxo's CEO, Andrew Witty, makes no apology to Glaxo's customers harmed by their marketing and selling tactics of their products nor does Witty make any apology to the US government for marketing and selling drugs in such a way that could have been detrimental to the people of the United States.

Speaking on behalf of it's shareholders the GSK statement reads:


The GSK Board and management team have been focused on resolving these long-standing legal matters and reducing financial uncertainty for the Group and believe this agreement in principle to be in the best long-term interests of shareholders.

Witty goes the extra mile with:


This is a significant step toward resolving difficult, long-standing matters which do not reflect the company that we are today. In recent years, we have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the US to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity and that we conduct our business openly and transparently. We reiterate our full commitment to ensuring appropriate promotion of our medicines to healthcare professionals and to the standards rightly expected by the US Government.


One could be duped into believing that Witty was sincere but history tells us that this is just another cash settlement with a total disregard for those that matter - the GSK customers.

I was enlightened to see Patrick Burns, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, an advocacy group for whistle-blowers pose the ultimate question to GSK's latest non-compliance of marketing and selling in the US. He asks:

“Who at Glaxo is going to jail as a part of this settlement? Who in management is being excluded from doing future business with the U.S. government?”

Who indeed?

Former GSK boss, J.P Garnier


Looking again at Witty's statement it would appear that he is deflecting the blame on his predecessor at GSK, Jean Pierre Garnier: "In recent years, we have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the US to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity and that we conduct our business openly and transparently."


The New York Times [NYT] further highlights Glaxo's wrongdoings with a statement from Brian Bourdot, an analyst at the investment bank Barclays Capital, who called the settlement an important step but also noted that GlaxoSmithKline “remains involved in other legal disputes, including alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” [1]

The NYT also adds:

In a separate case last year, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million, including a $150 million criminal penalty, to resolve federal complaints about manufacturing quality at a plant in Cidra, P.R., since closed. [Back stories here, here, here and here]

Mary Anne Rhyne, a spokeswoman for the company, said Thursday that it was still negotiating with the government over whether to include a corporate integrity agreement in that deal. The agreement could provide further penalties for other violations, though in manufacturing.

Mary Anne Rhyne, equipped in the art of deflection, is the same Glaxo spokesperson who, when speaking of Paxil [Seroxat] withdrawal, once said, "If ‘discontinuation reactions’ occur in patients stopping the majority will experience symptoms that are mild to moderate in intensity, and are usually limited to two weeks."


Ho hum.

Whilst Witty ensures future commitment to ensuring appropriate promotion of Glaxo medicines one has to ask why he has not issued an apology to Glaxo's consumers. Resolving criminal matters by throwing money just smacks of burying the problem, something GlaxoSmithKline are past masters at.

I live for the day when I see a law-firm criminally prosecute GlaxoSmithKline, be it Garnier or Witty. It's pretty difficult to sing the praises of a corporate criminal when that corporate criminal is behind bars.

Glaxo's and Witty's joint statement finished with:


GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.

Is it just me or does anyone else think they are taking the piss?



[1] Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a United States federal law known primarily for two of its main provisions, one that addresses accounting transparency requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and another concerning bribery of foreign officials.




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