The Board of Directors is responsible for the group’s system of corporate governance and is ultimately accountable for the group’s activities, strategy, risk management and financial performance. GlaxoSmithKline has become the poster child of big pharma payouts set aside to resolve wide-ranging charges brought by U.S. regulators and prosecutors. These included a $750 million payment relating to the sale of adulterated products from a facility in Puerto Rico and a record $3 billion in connection with charges relating to illegal marketing, suppression of adverse safety research results and overcharging government customers. The company set a record for the largest tax avoidance settlement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
“The FDA also relies increasingly upon fees and other payments from the pharmaceutical companies whose products the agency is supposed to regulate. This could contribute to the growing number of scandals in which the dangers of widely prescribed drugs have been discovered too late. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia was linked to thousands of heart attacks, and earlier in the decade, the company’s antidepressant Paxil was discovered to exacerbate the risk of suicide in young people.
Merck’s painkiller Vioxx was also linked to thousands of heart disease deaths. In each case, the scientific literature gave little hint of these dangers. The companies have agreed to pay settlements in class action lawsuits amounting to far less than the profits the drugs earned on the market. These precedents could be creating incentives for reduced vigilance concerning the side effects of prescription drugs in general.”
— Helen Epstein, “Flu Warning: Beware the Drug Companies”