GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) can trace its roots back to a small apothecary in 18th Century London. Through multiple corporate mergers, GSK found its current form in 2001. It is well-known for its asthma inhalers like Advair and Breo. But it is infamous for a bribing scandal in China. The company has also battled lawsuits that blame its products for injuries.
GlaxoSmithKline is a Big Pharma corporation. It sits at No. 194 on Forbes’ list of the 2,000 largest companies in the world.
The British pharmaceutical company is well-known for its respiratory products like Advair and Ventolin.
But GSK has faced allegations of unethical and unsafe business practices. Some of its former employees were criminally prosecuted on two different continents.
Some of GSK’s popular pharmaceuticals have harmed patients. Injuries led to product liability lawsuits.
GlaxoSmithKline is a global health care company with headquarters in Brentford, London.
Emma Walmsley is GSK’s CEO. She is the first woman to be chief executive of a major pharmaceutical corporation.
Total revenues for GSK reached $30.2 billion pounds in 2017. This equates to $40.4 billion in U.S. currency.
GSK employs nearly 100,000 people in over 150 countries. Its U.S. headquarters are in Philadelphia. GSK has a separate research facility in North Carolina.
GlaxoSmithKline started in 1715 as Plough Court pharmacy, a small apothecary shop in London. GSK evolved through a series of mergers over two centuries.
Smith & Gilbert drug house opened in Philadelphia. (Mahlon Kline later joined the entity.)
Thomas Beecham started Beecham’s Pills in England.
Plough Court pharmacy took on the name Allen & Hanburys.
American pharmacists Henry Wellcome and Silas Borroughs started Borroughs Wellcome & Company in London.
Glaxo Laboratories acquired Allen & Hanbury’s.
SmithKline Beckman and the Beecham Group merged to form SmithKline Beecham.
Glaxo and Wellcome merged.
SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome merged in a $75.7 billion stock deal. This gave GlaxoSmithKline its official start.
GSK focuses on vaccines, pharmaceutical drugs and consumer health care products. It sold 798 million doses of vaccines in 2017.
GSK is the maker of the industry’s broadest range of inhaled respiratory products. These include Advair, Ventolin and Breo Ellipta. The products are the company’s biggest moneymaker.
The company has also partnered with Pfizer and Shionogi to form a global HIV business, ViiV Healthcare. The business accounts for more than 20 percent of GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical sales.
- Inhaled asthma/COPD medication (combination steroid and bronchodilator)
- SSRI antidepressant
- Type 2 diabetes medicine
- Inhaled corticosteroids
- Antihistamine that blocks stomach acid
- Anti-nausea medication
- Cold and flu medicine
- Gum and lozenges to aid in smoking cessation
- Pain reliever for headaches and migraines
- Skin cream to treat cold sores or fever blisters
- Seasonal flu vaccines
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Hepatitis A and B vaccine
- Meningitis B vaccine
- Meningitis ACWY vaccine
- Meningitis C vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline Lawsuits and Settlements
GlaxoSmithKline has faced a number of product liability lawsuits. Patients filing lawsuits accuse the company of manufacturing dangerous or defective products.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Against GSK
Suicidal thoughts and birth defects
Philadelphia jurors awarded $2.5 million in a Paxil lawsuit filed by the family of 3-year-old born with severe heart malformations.
Chicago jurors ordered GSK to pay $3 million to the widow of a corporate attorney who killed himself after taking a generic version of Paxil not made by GSK.
GSK settled thousands of addiction claims for a total of $160 million.
GSK settled Paxil and pregnancy claims for $1.14 billion.
GSK paid $6.2 million to settle a Canada class action lawsuit involving 50 mothers and their children.
Strokes, heart attacks and heart failure
GSK settled over 10,000 Avandia lawsuits for more than $500 million.
GSK agreed to pay $250 million to settle 5,500 death and injury claims.
GSK set aside $6.4 billion for future lawsuits and settlements.
GSK faced 445 Zofran lawsuits in May 2018.
Fraud, Misbranding & Failure to Report Safety Data
In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to federal criminal offenses. The company’s crimes included misbranding of its antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin. GSK also failed to report safety data to the FDA about its diabetes drug Avandia.
GSK admitted to illegally promoting Paxil for treatment of depression in children.
The company reached a civil settlement with the U.S. federal government in which it agreed to pay a fine of $3 billion.
The plea represented the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history. It resolved allegations of pricing fraud.
GSK reached a related civil settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. It resolved allegations of improper marketing of Advair and Zofran.
GlaxoSmithKline Drug Recalls
GlaxoSmithKline recalled some of it products for defects, possible tampering and reduced effectiveness. Products affected include consumer weight loss products, vaccines and albuterol inhalers.
|2018||Ventolin and Seretide||200,000||Possible damaged foil strip containing medication inside the device resulting in reduced number of doses delivered by the inhaler|
|2017||Ventolin||600,000||Leak in the propellant that delivers the medicine resulting in a smaller dose of medication than indicated|
|2017||Menveo Meningococcal vaccine||Lot M16095 only (5 doses – 10 vials – per package)||Precautionary; the batch was subject to mechanical intervention during sanitary filling operations not supported by validation data|
|2015||Flulaval Quadrivalent Thimerosal-free Pre-Filled Syringes (PFS) flu vaccine||All remaining 2014-2015 doses||Potential for reduced effectiveness due to a decrease in vaccine strength prior to its expiration date found through routine testing|
|2015||Ventolin HFA||More than 128,000||Defective delivery system resulting in less than 200 doses|
|2014||Alli weight loss products||From all U.S. and Puerto Rico retailers||Some of the packages were tampered with and may contain product that is not alli|
A Chinese court ordered GlaxoSmithKline to pay $492 million in 2014. The fine resolved charges of bribing doctors in China to use GSK products. It was the biggest penalty ever imposed by a Chinese court.
The court sentenced Briton Mark Reilly to four years in prison. He was the company’s British executive for China. Four other Chinese employees received the same punishment.
But the employees may never serve prison time. The court postponed the sentences. Reilly was deported.
In February 2018, GSK was still answering to fraud investigators in its home country.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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