The U.S. government is imposing the largest fine ever levied against a drug company, after British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline agreed to a $3 billion settlement over its use of illegal marketing schemes and fraudulent medical studies to boost drug sales.
Glaxo will pay $1 billion to settle the criminal case and $2 billion for civil charges – covering wrongdoing dating back to the late-1990s and through the mid-2000s.
As Time reports, the corruption at Glaxo came to light thanks to four whistleblowers within the company, who detailed the drug giant’s campaign to get doctors to prescribe its drugs for unapproved uses by paying for opulent trips and lavishing them with spa treatments, sailing excursions – even balloon rides.
What’s more, the U.S. government concluded Glaxo took steps to hide its antidepressant drug Paxil’s potential link to teen suicide, by hiring a company to concoct a bogus medical study touting the drug and then publishing the “results” – which claimed Paxil was actually a good treatment for depression in children.
The company also faced charges related to two other drugs, including another antidepressant, Wellburtrin, and its diabetes drug Avandia. And as Time writes, $3 billion “sounds large, but it is only a portion of the drug maker’s profits from the drugs involved.”
An investigation into banking corruption in Korea has now reached the brother of President Lee Myung-bak.
As the Korea Herald reports, the president’s brother – himself a former top lawmaker – was questioned by prosecutors this week over bribery allegations. Lee Sang-deuk is suspected of receiving nearly $600,000 from businessmen – sums allegedly paid to keep certain banks protected during a crackdown on failing Korean financial institutions.
Authorities also suspect Lee may have used some of the money to help his younger brother’s presidential campaign. According to the Herald, the prosecution “is expected to file for his detention soon after the interrogation wraps up,” and they have now shifted their description of Lee from a “witness” to a “suspect.”
Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce group, said Thursday that one of its former executives has been arrested by Chinese police over bribery allegations.
Yan Limin is the former general manager of Alibaba’s Juhuasuan website, the BBC reports, and he had been fired earlier this year for misconduct. Alibaba has seen numerous corruption problems in recent years, and last year, two executives resigned after “a rise in fraudulent sales.”
The company’s own internal investigations found hundreds of fraud cases, and a number of people connected to Alibaba have already been arrested by Chinese police. Part of the Alibaba corruption centers on businesses colluding with the online company to falsely inflate their ratings and wipe bad feedback from the popular e-commerce website.