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Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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District of Columbia to Receive $1.2 Million in National Settlement with Glaxosmithkline on Advair, Paxil, Wellbutrin

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ted Gest
Public Information Officer
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D. C. – The District of Columbia will receive a $1.2 million share of a multi-million dollar settlement by D.C. and 44 states with GlaxoSmithKline, LLC (GSK) to resolve allegations that the company unlawfully promoted its asthma drug Advair and its antidepressant drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced.

In a complaint filed today in D.C. Superior Court, the District alleges that GSK violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the uses and characteristics of these drugs.

The settlement addresses how pharmaceutical sales teams are motivated and paid.  A consent judgment will require GSK to continue its new Patient First Program, which discontinues the practice of basing salespeople’s compensation on their sales volumes. The program includes evaluations based on business acumen, customer engagement, and scientific knowledge about GSK’s products. GSK is the first major pharmaceutical company to make this fundamental change in the way pharmaceutical companies promote drugs.

“The decoupling of pharmaceutical salespeople’s pay from their sales volume is a major change in how they have traditionally been compensated, and reduces incentives for off-label marketing and other deceptive promotional practices,” Attorney General Nathan said.

The consent judgment also provides that GSK:

  • Not make promotional claims that a GSK product is better, more effective, safer, or has less serious side effects or contraindications than has been demonstrated by substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience;
  • Not present favorable information or conclusions from a clinical study regarding a GSK product unless there is significant support for such information or conclusions;
  • Provide samples of GSK products only to health care professionals who are expected to prescribe them only for approved indications; and
  • Not disseminate information describing any off-label use of a GSK product, unless such information and materials are consistent with applicable Food and Drug Administration regulations and FDA Guidances for Industry.  

In addition, the judgment requires scientifically trained personnel to be ultimately responsible for developing and approving responses to health care provider questions and for their responses to be unbiased and non-promotional.

The D.C. share of the settlement will be paid to the city’s treasury.