Glaxo Caught, Forced to Post Bad Paxil Data

I really wonder if people really understand all the dirty tricks pharmaceutical companies get away with just to get their newest "band aid" drug to consumers. You can imagine a smile on my face when I saw this story about GlaxoSmithKline settlement with the state of New York over misrepresenting and hiding unfavorable information about the safety and effectiveness of Paxil for children and teens.

Although the settlement included a $2.5 million fine to the state--merely chump change to these "fat cat" drugmakers--the real penalty is yet to come. Glaxo must post clinical trial data on its drugs, favorable or not, by the end of next year.

This news underscores a huge disconnect between pharmaceutical manufacturers, the physicians who prescribe their medications and consumers who use them. Should drugmakers be forced to tell physicians and consumers when newer studies reflect negatively on their products? Right now, manufacturers are only required to share this information with federal regulators. Two months ago, however, leading medicals journals along with the Amercian Medical Association asked for this to change.

New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer called attention to the problem when he filed fraud charges against Glaxo, based on a 1998 e-mail in which company officials discussed the Paxil studies and the need to "effectively manage the dissemination of these data in order to minimize any potential negative commercial impact." Two weeks later, Glaxo put the Paxil data on its Web site and promised to create a public registry of studies of its other drugs.

Of course, Glaxo believe it did nothing wrong and a spokesperson noted the company had been working on building the registry for months before the lawsuit. Under the settlement, new studies will be added to the registry within 10 months after their completion.

Washington Post August 27, 2004

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