GlaxoSmithKline pays $750 million for defective medication

GlaxoSmithKline sign

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: The British drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay a $750 million fine for manufacturing defective medication.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer joins us now, live, from Washington. Good morning, Nancy.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Good morning.

HOBSON: Well, fill us in on the details here, what was wrong with these drugs that Glaxo was making?

GENZER: Well, Jeremy some had inappropriate amounts of active ingredients. Other, controlled release pills could actually fall apart. GlaxoSmithKline also didn't make sure there pills were free of contamination. The affected drugs include the antidepressant Paxil. There were also problems with an ointment for treating skin infections. Luckily, no one who took these medications was hurt. And the plant in Puerto Rico which had the problems were discovered is now closed.

HOBSON: And Nancy, how did the government find out about these problems?

GENZER: The FDA started investigating after complaints from a whistle blower. Cheryl Eckard was Glaxo's Global quality assurance manager. She inspected the Puerto Rico plant in 2002. She says she reported the problems she found to her boss. But she was fired. That's when she went to the FDA. And as a whistle blower she gets $96 million of the settlement Glaxo paid. The Justice Department says this is the fourth-largest settlement ever by a pharmaceutical company to the government to settle both civil and criminal allegations. New York Times says there are federal lawsuits against drug makers in the pipeline.

HOBSON: Well, we'll be watching to see what those are. Thanks, Nancy.

GENZER: You're welcome.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer in Washington.

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