Launched in 1830 in Philadelphia, GlaxoSmithKline now ranks as #66 on the Financial Times list of the world’s largest companies. The company now has more than 96,000 employees in 117 countries, more than 13,000 of which research and develop new medicines, vaccines, and consumer healthcare products. Despite a 2012 admission of guilt under the False Claims Act and several pending lawsuits filed by patients who took Zofran, GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical sales topped £15.5 billion in 2014.
A Powerhouse Comes Under Scrutiny
GlaxoSmithKline has a long history as one of the most influential pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company discovered Amoxicillin in 1972, has launched and patented several prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and even applied for regulatory approval for the first-ever malaria vaccine.
In recent years, however, GlaxoSmithKline has come under increased scrutiny for inaccurately marketing its drugs, making false claims about the efficacy of its drugs, and bribing healthcare professionals.
Zofran was approved by the FDA to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. In 2006, Zofran’s patent ran out and, at GlaxoSmithKline’s prompting, doctors began prescribing the generic version of Zofran to pregnant women who were experiencing morning sickness. However, the FDA never approved Zofran as a treatment for pregnant women, and the drug has since been linked to birth defects in babies of women who took it while pregnant. Several Zofran-related lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline are pending.
This is not the first time GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of marketing a drug for treatments that it hasn’t been approved for. In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to criminal charges of bribing doctors and encouraging alternative, unapproved uses for drugs like Advair and Paxil. GlaxoSmithKline’s “corporate misconduct” included providing doctors with lavish trips to foreign resorts in exchange for the doctors agreeing to prescribe GlaxoSmithKline drugs over others. According to court documents, GlaxoSmithKline also paid doctors to “independently” promote the company’s drugs. In total, GlaxoSmithKline paid out more than $3 billion in criminal fines and civil settlements under the False Claims Act.
GlaxoSmithKline Product Line Up
GlaxoSmithKline currently manufactures prescription medications for treating asthma, cancer, diabetes, and more, as well as popular vaccines.
OTC products include:
GlaxoSmithKline is also pursuing ventures with several global franchises, including the emerging field of bioelectronics. However, pharmaceutical sales represented 67% of GlaxoSmithKline’s 2014 income and the company continues to focus on both patent-protected and off-patent medicines.
GlaxoSmithKline is currently researching drugs to treat the following:
- Cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses
- Infectious diseases
- Respiratory illnesses
- Rare diseases
In collaboration with Pfizer and Viiv Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline is also researching HIV treatments.
Have you experienced adverse reactions while using Zofran?
Why Are Former Zofran Users Filing Lawsuits? Court documents show GlaxoSmithKline knew as early as 1992 that Zofran presented “unreasonable risk of harm” to developing babies because the drug passes through the human placenta. Despite this knowledge, the drugmaker continued to market the drug to pregnant women. No version of Zofran, including Zuplenz and generic ondansetron, is approved for use in pregnant women. Lawsuits accuse GlaxoSmithKline of marketing Zofran to expectant mothers as well as paying doctors to prescribe it.