By Ed Silverman // January 3rd, 2011 // 8:16 am
Three months ago, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million fine to settle disturbing charges concerning numerous production problems that took place several years ago at a now-shuttered facility in Cidra, Puerto Rico - contaminated meds, mislabeled packaging and incorrect dosages involving various prescription meds. The fine, which includes a $150 million criminal penalty, was the result of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Cheryl Eckard, a former global quality assurance manager (you can read the lawsuit and other documents here).
Since the settlement was announced in October, Eckard largely maintained her silence, but last night, she appeared on 60 Minutes. Watch the clip and you will learn how she encountered execs who were indifferent to the problems. And you can listen to this phone call she made to Glaxo management, imploring them to take immediate steps to stop the bleeding, but to no avail.
The disclosure relates to screw-ups that occurred nearly a decade ago, but has greatly embarassed Glaxo, which trotted out an exec who told 60 Minutes that he hopes such gaffes will never happen again. And in this statement, Glaxo disputes any patients were harmed. Nonetheless, the settlement indicates the feds are now pursuing manufacturing fraud as aggressively as off-label marketing. And this is not the final chapter; as we reported previously, the US Attorney in Boston says the investigation is ongoing.