This petition closed over 1 year ago
Earlier this month British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plead guilty to inappropriately marketing its antidepressant drug Paxil as well as Wellbutrin; for withholding information on the cardiovascular risks of Avandia (a diabetes drug that has been shown to cause heart attacks); and for promoting Advair (an inhaled lung drug) to patients with mild asthma that the medication was not approved for. The U.S. Department of Justice struck GSK with $3 billion in criminal and civil fines - the largest ever imposed by the U.S. on a pharmaceutical company.
Though it may seem like a lot, it turns out that while GSK mislead patients about its drugs, the company racked in a near $27.5 billion on its antidepressants alone. These figures have many analysts wondering if huge fines actually deter corporate fraud, or merely serve as yet another "cost of doing business". Unethical as it may be, time and again huge pharma criminals deceive the public, take the government's "slap on the wrist," and carry on with similar underhanded practices. For instance, in 2010 the Federal Trade Commission sued the infamous pomegranate juice manufacturer POM Wonderful for making false medical claims on the ability of its product to cure prostate cancer. After the judge's ruling, and paying the hefty settlement fee, POM continued to thrive as a company.
Clearly, huge settlements do not stop multinational pharmaceutical companies from marketing unethically and endangering the health of countless Americans. While winning lawsuits is a first step, what really matters is changing these deceptive corporate policies once and for all. Unless we hold specific individuals accountable for their actions, wealthy corporations will continue to turn profits by knowingly selling drugs that can harm people rather than help them. The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Affairs claims to protect consumers from these type of fraudulent marketing attacks – it's time this regulatory body cracked down on the true masterminds of these crimes: company executives and CEO's. Just as drug users and dealers serve jail time for their actions, the heads of pharmaceutical companies that sell fraudulent drugs should be punished for their actions.