Four Recent Medical Settlements, and How They Affect You

Some might argue that litigation is a cost to do business for big pharmaceutical companies, and they might not be wrong. Between 2004 and 2010, big pharmaceutical companies paid out an estimated $7 billion over lawsuits and penalties for how they do business. Sometimes these advertisements lack information, or paint a picture that is different from reality.

In these cases, pharmaceutical companies greatly overstepped their boundaries in creating, marketing or peddling a product that did not live up to standards they set themselves. Here are some eye opening lawsuits from 2012. You might find that some of these suits even affected you.


1. Glaxo Smith Kline

The British pharmaceutical company is the maker of Paxil, a drug that was marketed as an antidepressant. Paxil was being sold for unapproved usage, with Glaxo’s knowledge, and the company was also caught failing to report important safety data about a diabetes drug it manufactured.

The settlement came after four employees from within the company tipped the government off to the illegal practices. The company used incentives to get their drugs in doctors’ offices, including a hunting trip and spa treatments.

As a result of the lawsuit, Paxil received a new warning label. This warned parents of the risk that teenagers faced while on the drug, including the increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

2. Lipitor

A pfizer lipitor lawsuit lawsuit is currently brewing over studies that show an increased link of developing Type 2 Diabetes while on the drug. A study published in 2010 seemed to show a direct link to patients taking Lipitor, and those who developed Type 2 Diabetes. The exact numbers are hard to verify, but as many as 30 million Americans may have taken the drug since 2005.

This lawsuit is still in litigation, but it’s clear that many people were affected by the poor marketing of this drug.

3. Abbot Laboratories

The American company paid out over $1.6 billion to the federal government, and many states, in connection to a product known as Depakote. The product was an anti-seizure drug, but Abbot Laboratories marketed the drug illegally as a treatment for schizophrenia and agitated dementia.

The drug was approved only for the treatment of seizures or migraines, and though doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs for any purpose, the drug makers themselves cannot promote a drug for a usage it is not sanctioned for.

Abbot’s activities were particularly dangerous to public health because they targeted the elderly population. The drug was sold as a method of sedating patients without triggering safety inquiries from the federal government.

4. Amgen

Amgen paid out over $700 million in connection with poor marketing practices. The drug maker was selling Aranesp, which was meant to help treat anemia in cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Amgen also told doctors and patients that they could use a larger dose than what was prescribed with minimal danger to themselves.

This was meant to compete with a rival drug on the market from Johnson and Johnson. The company even attempted to get permission from the FDA to use their drug in this fashion, but the fed turned them down.

Amgen’s practice of “reactive marketing” did no directly prescribe the medicine for uses outside the scope of the FDA. Instead, representatives were trained to field questions and provide responses tailored toward selling the drug as a cure for anemia.

What was once Amgen’s highest selling product dipped in sales when it was revealed that the drug actually increased cancer risk in patients.

What these cases show is that a patient must take a more active role in health care, paying more attention to their own medical history and thoroughly researching the drugs they take.

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