Ex-GSK lawyer put loyalty ahead of law, prosecutor says

Former GlaxoSmithKline attorney Lauren Stevens didn't get much of a reprieve after her first indictment was tossed out last month. The government quickly indicted her again--on obstruction charges, among others--and, starting yesterday, took their case to trial.

Justice Department lawyers say Stevens tried to cover up potential marketing violations at GSK. When government investigators came calling, she responded by making false statements about the company's promotions of the antidepressant Wellbutrin, they maintain. She also failed to disclose some questionable marketing practices and didn't turn over potentially incriminating promotional materials, the indictment says.

"This is a case about a lawyer who put loyalty to her company above fidelity to the truth and to the law," prosecutor Patrick Jasperse said during opening statements in a Maryland federal court (as quoted by Bloomberg). "This is a case about a lawyer who went too far, from aggressively representing her company to breaking the law."

For Stevens part, her attorney told the jury she didn't intend to mislead the FDA about Wellbutrin marketing. She responded to the investigation as advised by in-house counsel at GSK and by outside law firm King & Spalding, attorney Reid Weingarten said. "Everything she did in this case was utterly inconsistent with an intent to deceive the government," he said.

- read the Bloomberg coverage