Pharma racks up $6.6B in fraud penalties so far this year

Pharma's 2012 fraud toll? $6.6 billion, says advocacy group Public Citizen. Since January 1, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and other drugmakers agreed to pay that amount to settle claims of defrauding government health programs, the group says in a new report.

That's more than twice the 2011 total, Bloomberg notes. Last year, fines and penalties for pharma fraud totaled $2.5 billion. Of course, Glaxo's massive settlement with the Justice Department, announced in July, accounted for a big chunk of this year's total.

The remaining billions for 2012 comes from state and federal fines and penalties affecting several companies. In all, companies have come to 14 settlements with U.S. states and 5 with the federal government. The state penalties amount to far less than the federal payments, however, with $1.57 billion in state fines and penalties and just over $5 billion in federal payments owed.

Glaxo's settlement total since Public Citizen last reported on fraud penalties, back in November 2010, also led the pharma-penalty pack. GSK's fines and penalties amounted to $3.1 billion from Nov. 2, 2010, to July 18, 2012. Johnson & Johnson comes in second for that period, with $1.9 billion, and Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) is close behind, with $1.77 billion. Merck ($MRK) is fourth, with just over $1 billion.

- read the Public Citizen report
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