Whistleblowers had big role in Glaxo’s record-setting settlement

A major component of GlaxoSmithKline record-setting settlement announced July 1, 2012, was Phillips & Cohen’s qui tam case, filed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2003.

The court consolidated Phillips & Cohen’s case with a separate whistleblower case filed in Colorado. The two cases settled for $1.017 billion out of the total settlement. This is the largest civil, False Claims Act (whistleblower) settlement on record.

Phillips & Cohen represented two whistleblowers whose “qui tam” (False Claim Act) lawsuit exposed the bulk of the off-label marketing violations and illegal financial inducements the government alleged Glaxo had committed. The allegations made in Phillips & Cohen’s qui tam lawsuit involved six Glaxo drugs:  Advair, Wellbutrin, Imitrex, Lamictral, Zofran and Valtrex.

The allegations regarding Glaxo’s off-label marketing of Advair to treat mild asthma, made in Phillips & Cohen’s lawsuit, settled for $686 million alone.

Doctors may prescribe for their patients whatever medication the doctors believe would be effective to treat their patients’ conditions. But pharma companies are prohibited from marketing drugs for uses that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t specifically approved (known as “off-label” uses), nor are they allowed to influence doctors’ decisions with marketing information or financial inducements.

For more information about the Glaxo whistleblower case brought by Phillips & Cohen and the civil settlement, see:

  • The Phillips & Cohen press release about the Glaxo whistleblower settlement.
  • The qui tam lawsuit filed by Phillips & Cohen on behalf of whistleblowers Thomas Gerahty and Matthew Burke (including more than 200 exhibits filed as part of the evidence in the whistleblower lawsuit).
  • The settlement agreement between Glaxo and the federal government that resolves the whistleblower lawsuits.