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Drug maker to pay $750 million for defective meds

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« on: October 26, 2010, 02:03:31 pm »

Drug maker to pay $750 million for defective meds

GSK settlement comes after federal probe into manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico

By Pete Williams   Justice correspondent
NBC News NBC News
updated 1 hour 9 minutes ago 2010-10-26T17:38:03

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical makers, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit accusing the company of selling adulterated and improperly made drugs, federal officials say.

The settlement, expected to be announced in Boston Tuesday, is the result of a long-running federal investigation of the company's drug manufacturing plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico.

The government claimed that the plant churned out medications that were mislabeled, mixed up in the wrong packaging, and even defective -- made either too weak or too strong. The allegations included such popular prescription drugs as Paxil and Avandia.

The Justice Department's original lawsuit claimed that the plant mixed different strengths of some pills together, such as both 30 mg and 10 mg tablets in the same bottle. The government also claimed that some drugs were contaminated with micro-organisms, including an ointment used to treat skin infections in small children and an injectable drug for treating nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

A big factor in the lawsuit was the role of a former manager of quality assurance for GSK who became a whistleblower after she was fired.

The company has not yet responded to requests for comment.

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