GlaxoSmithKline's $3 billion settlement opened up pages upon pages of Justice Department allegations. And some of those pages name names--well-known names. According to the government's complaint, off-label marketing at GSK ($GSK) was sanctioned by Chris Viehbacher, who left Glaxo in 2008 to take the reins at Sanofi ($SNY).
And Viehbacher isn't alone. The Justice Department documents also name Jean-Pierre Garnier, who was GSK's chief executive from 2000 to 2008, and now serves as chairman of Swiss-based Actelion ($ATLN). And then there's David Stout, who ran GSK's pharma business, now a director at Shire ($SHPGY), and Robert Ingram, once Glaxo's COO, and now chairman at Ireland's Elan.
According to Bloomberg, the government's case alleges that "high-level GSK executives implemented the off-label promotion of Advair," an asthma drug. The company pushed Advair for all asthma patients, rather than just the severe cases it was FDA-cleared to treat, DoJ says. Viehbacher and Garnier were among the GSK officials who condoned targeting patients with mild and newly diagnosed asthma.
"The real opportunity for us with Advair is that we can now convince physicians that there is no such thing as mild or severe asthma: you have asthma," Viehbacher said at a 2004 investor presentation, according to government documents (as quoted by Bloomberg).
Stout and Ingram were among the GSK execs who heard complaints about off-label marketing from whistleblower Greg Thorpe--complaints that went unheeded, the government complaint contends. Now, Thorpe is one of the four whistleblowers who'll share millions from the DoJ settlement.
Special Report: GlaxoSmithKline - Pharma's Top 11 Marketing Settlements