GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3 Billion in Fines – So What?

July 5, 2012 Natasha Tracy

In spite of what some people would have you believe, I’m not actually the biggest fan of pharmaceutical companies. None of them are champions in my book. These companies only care about one thing – making money. And they will do whatever they think they can get away with to make that happen.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t need and use their products, because I do, but I harbour no false illusions about who it is I’m in bed with.

And while I do believe that pharmaceutical companies have cleaned up their act a lot in terms of incentivising prescriptions of medication and I think doctors have done a lot to reject drug company incentives, let’s face it, drug companies will still market any way they can because that’s their job – to sell product.

And when drug companies step out of line, illegally market their drugs and fail to report proper safety data, I want their hand slapped – hard. And $3 billion dollars just isn’t going to do it.

GlaxoSmithKline Fined $3 Billion

As it happens, $3 billion is actually a record fine for a pharmaceutical company – which should tell you why pharmaceutical companies don’t care about fines. In 2009, GlaxoSmithKline made $4.7 billion dollars on Advair Diskus alone so a fine that doesn’t even cover what the manufacturer makes from one drug in one year hardly seems like a hand slap to me.

(GlaxoSmithKline’s charges mostly revolve around paroxetine (antidepressant, Paxil), bupropion (antidepressant, Wellbutrin) and rosiglitazone maleate (for diabetes, Avandia.)

It’s very simple; $3 billion sounds like a lot of money to the average person, but then, the average person doesn’t have revenue of $42.4 billion. And what’s more, the $3 billion is supposed to cover criminal activities involving multiple drugs over a 10-year period. So, you take $3 billion over ten years and suddenly that’s only $300 million dollars per year! That’s less than the company makes from one of the drugs in question in a year.

Does that sound reasonable? Fair? I don’t think so.

And, of course, no executive was ever charged with wrongdoing so no human being is even held accountable for wrongly marketing drugs for prescription to children, among other things,

GlaxoSmithKline and the Cost of Doing Business

And so these types of fines – even if they are the biggest ever – are just the cost of doing business to a pharmaceutical company. In fact, GlaxoSmithKline’s stock went up upon news of the fine. No one cares except possibly their press-release writer.

Protect Yourself Against Pharmaceutical Company’s Bull Marketing

I’m not going to tell you not to use medication because medication is appropriate in many cases, but what I will say is that you need to educate yourself about the medication you take because the last thing you need is to fall into a marketing trap where some crummy doctor prescribes something because a drug rep has convinced them to, and not because it’s the best drug for you.

(And for godsake don’t listen to direct-to-consumer drug marketing. The US is one of only two counties that allow that poppycock. Don’t get me started.)

Image provided by Wikipedia: the headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline Japan

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, July 5). GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3 Billion in Fines – So What?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

kaitlin panda
July, 26 2012 at 8:57 am

I think it's sad that my country allows pharmaceutical companies to advertise the way they do. The goal should be to get people with the right medication regardless who produces it. Mental illness diagnostics is all about what the patient tells the doctor since technology hasn't given us definite physical tests yet. If the patient goes in thinking they have the symptoms they saw in an ad and need the meds for it, the doctor will likely end up prescribing it or something similar. Some doctors let themselves be influenced by the drug companies as well. I've sometimes left their office with a handful of samples feeling like a guinea pig. "This is new and sounds good. Try this!" America would be a lot healthier if it wasn't all about the money.

Dr Musli Ferati
July, 9 2012 at 2:46 am

On the age of marketing, such is this where we survive, the most blood-sucker ones is pharmaceutical. Abusing the vital need of wellness, pharmaceutical managers have dared to sell their product with overbloated prize. Ufortunately, in this dishonesty business are included many doctors as priscriptor and recommandator as well, of medications. The astronomic cipher that any pharmaceutical company take advantage are the direct and indirect repercusion of doctors misuse of their nobleman profession. When are in the question the psychiatric medications, the issue become most sensible, because the placebo effect is most dominant to these feeble category if patients.

Robert A. Des Jardins
July, 8 2012 at 8:16 am

As an extremely dedicated Certified Peer of over two and a half years, it was only after I "assisted" in permanently removing myself from a very bad C.M.H., that I began to update myself concerning the Bipolar condition and the medications, etc. WOW!!! I take pretty good care of myself, but, after coming across some of the latest eye-opening info.,I am going to have to take a bit of time for some personal re-assessing as to what might be best for my on-going recovery and stability ! Thank You Natasha for doing what I should have !

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