So, Andrew Witty has announced he will be leaving the sinking ship (GlaxoSmithKline) in 2017, this after being in charge of the criminally prosecuted company for 8 years and having spent a total of 31 years at GSK.
Sales and profits have flagged, lawsuits have been lost and, in many instances, settled. Bribery and corruption has been noted and plants have been shut down due to uncleanliness.
That's quite a legacy to leave behind considering Witty was knighted in 2012 for "for services to the economy and the UK pharmaceutical industry."
Services to the UK economy?
Wait a minute here...
Who was it now that were fined £37.6 million for paying money to generic drug companies to prevent the potential entry of generic alternatives to its own antidepressant, Seroxat? A move which potentially deprived the NHS from "significant price falls". (see Glaxo fined £37.6m for 'illegal behaviour' over Seroxat deals)
Not on my watch
Okay, the £37.6 million fine was imposed on Glaxo for their nefarious activities before Witty became top dog But who was it that, after being handed down the fine, denied any wrong doing? Um, GlaxoSmithKline (2016). Obviously any statement made by Glaxo relating to legal matters would have had to go through their CEO first.
It's ironic that GSK delayed others selling generic brands of Seroxat during this period - by paying those to delay their version GSK went on to pocket £90 million in 2001, that's just one year folks, it's unknown what Seroxat went on to make Glaxo from then til 2004.
Millions of UK patients were prescribed Seroxat during this period, many of whom became addicted, many of whom thought about suicide, many of whom who actually went on to complete suicide. And lets not forget those pregnant mothers who either gave birth to children with birth defects or those forced to abort their pregnancies due to birth defects caused by Seroxat.
Witty is aware of the problems Seroxat has caused UK consumers but he has declined to meet with patients to discuss this matter. (see GSK's Andrew Witty in Patient Aftercare Snub) In fact, during his 8 year spell as CEO for Glaxo, Witty has made no public apology for any of the crimes where they have been found guilty. Maybe he feels he doesn't need to as the majority of crimes stem from when his predecessor, JP Garnier, was in charge. Any crimes committed during Witty's 8 year reign are either "robustly denied" or kept 'in-house' before whistleblowers come along and blow the lid - we, the public, still get no apology from the company.
Witty apparently knew nothing about the fraud being committed in China and even when he did he made no apologies for the behaviour of senior executives (see Andrew Witty... I know narrrrrrrrthing).
Let's take a close look at Witty's remarks regarding the Chinese fraud. This from The Guardian:
Witty said GSK's head office in London had no knowledge of the alleged fraudulent activity until the Chinese police raided its offices in Shanghai earlier this month. "As far as headquarters, we had no sense of this issue."
This is despite GSK declaring last month that a four-month internal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in China found "no evidence of corruption or bribery in our China business".
Witty said the previous allegations raised by a whistleblower were "quite different" to the new charges. "They are two completely different sets of issues: we fully investigated the first and of course this has now surfaced in the last couple of weeks," he said.
In fact, GSK China seemed more concerned about finding the whistleblower rather than investigating the claims of the whistleblower. They hired ChinaWhys, a company run by husband and wife, Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng. Humphrey and Yingzeng were later incarcerated in a Chinese prison for matters unrelated to the GSK investigation while the ring leader of the Glaxo fraud, Mark Reilly, was handed down a suspended sentence; ie no jail time.
So, take a look at Witty's statements again. It appears, to me at least, that even when crimes are committed under his captaincy Witty can still brush them off because he "didn't know about them."
Prior to Chinagate we had a record $3 billion dollar fine handed down to GSK from the Department of Justice who had been investigating Glaxo's sales and promotional practices between January 1997 and 2004 related to nine products (Advair, Flovent, Imitrex, Lamictal, Lotronex, Paxil, Valtrex, Wellbutrin, and Zofran).
Again, this was before Witty took charge, again Witty made no form of apologies to those harmed by the above GSK products. In fact the statement issued by GSK in July 2012 sees them try to cover themselves in garlands with statements such as, "We cooperated with the Department of Justice in these investigations." and also, "The company reached this settlement with the government to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation of the government’s claims and to put behind us these long-standing investigations of what was, for the most part, very old conduct."
The Department of Justice, however, were more clear with their statements. As you can see (above) Glaxo claim to have reached this settlement with the government to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation.
Here's the other side of the coin.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Global health care giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) agreed to plead guilty and to pay $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices.
Nowhere in Glaxo's statement do we read that they agreed to plead guilty when in actual fact they...
- agreed to plead guilty to misbranding Paxil in that its labeling was false and misleading regarding the use of Paxil for patients under 18.
- agreed to plead guilty to misbranding Wellbutrin in that its labeling did not bear adequate directions for these off-label uses.
- agreed to plead guilty to failing to report data to the FDA and has agreed to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $242,612,800 for its unlawful conduct concerning Avandia.
- agreed to plead guilty for its Off-Label Promotion and Kickbacks
No apology was ever made despite Paxil causing suicidal thoughts and completion, despite Avandia being responsible for a number of deaths, one of which was due to go to trial but, on the eve of the trial Glaxo made a settlement citing, "the company settled to avoid the risks and costs of litigation."
Stuck record anyone?
A further 13,000 cases of wrongful death by Avandia were "resolved" by GSK.
You know if GSK wanted to avoid the risks and costs of litigation then why aren't they doing the same with the UK Seroxat (Paxil) litigation, a case that is approaching 10 years since it was first filed. They may argue that they have no case to answer but they settled the same claims with over 3,500 claimants in America, once again it was resolved to "avoid the risks and costs of litigation."
Perhaps I'm being unfair to Witty. He was basically given the task of polishing a turd when he took over from Garnier in 2008 - in fact no matter how hard he tried to clean up the mess left by Garnier he was, it appears, making his own mess - it's been akin to filling up a bucket with excrement, that bucket having a hole in it.
Thanks for the laughs along the way, the company statements, the denial, the settlements. Thanks for showing us all how to ignore the public is the way that GSK operate.
Thanks too for giving me almost 10 years of fodder for this old blog of mine, for trying to sue me because I made a couple of points about one of your spokespersons (or was your reason for suing me because I am part of the UK litigation?)
Thanks must also be mentioned for the way in which Witty's company has brought me close to many of the victims (those who have lost loved ones due to Paxil induced suicide and Paxil induced birth defects, not to mention the hundreds of people I have met and corresponded with regarding Seroxat addiction.
A super-dooper fat pay cheque will no doubt be coming his way. Amazing isn't it. Take over a company left in the doggie doo by a Frenchman who resembles Monty Burns from the Simpsons ~ continue running the company in the same manner; ie commit various crimes yet deny any wrong-doing. Retire at the end of it all and live a life of luxury bereft of any remorse for causing so much heartache for the victims his company has left behind to pick up the pieces after losing loved ones to company drugs.
Question on everyone's lips now is, 'Who gets to polish the turd once Witty leaves'?
Let's hope, whoever it is, has the decency to meet patients face-to-face opposed to hiding behind fat cat attorneys. Let's hope too that any successor to Witty will have the gumption to apologise to victims of GSK's pharmaceutical products, regardless of whether or not the deaths occurred on someone else's watch.