Martin & Jones, PLLC
Call today for a Free consultation.

Details Emerge from Glaxo Whistleblower Suit

New details have emerged regarding GlaxoSmithKline’s acts of misconduct which led to a $3 billion qui tam (“whistleblower”) suit. GlaxoSmithKline (“Glaxo” or “GSK”) recently agreed to pay $3 billion to resolve claims that the drug giant unlawfully engaged in off-label marketing of nine prescription drugs. The Glaxo employees who became whistleblowers and helped institute the lawsuit against GSK first reported the evidence of unlawful off-label drug marketing to the company itself. GSK promptly launched an internal investigation which verified their employees’ reports. However, instead of taking appropriate action to bring the company back into compliance with the law, Glaxo instead opted to allow the unlawful marketing to continue due to the hefty profits received through improper off-label marketing of the drugs. Those actions also came at the risk of patient safety.

In 2001, two GSK employees reported concerns about illegal marketing practices they learned of while working in the field for the drug company. GSK’s lead compliance officer then launched an internal investigation. Rather than acting on the verified reports of unlawful marketing, Glaxo retaliated against the employees. At that point, the employees became whistleblowers and their charges became the basis of an off-label marketing whistleblower complaint against GSK. Details of the unlawful marketing campaign became public when documents were unsealed in connection with the early July 2012 settlement of the case.

Evidence presented in the case revealed the following misconduct by Glaxo:

  • Glaxo improperly marketed the asthma drug Advair for mild asthma even though the drug was only approved for treatment of moderate to severe forms of asthma and the drug carried a “black box” warning, an FDA requirement for drugs with the most severe and dangerous potential side effects.
  • Glaxo promoted Imitrex, an adult medicine for migraines, for use with children, despite the FDA’s rejection of GSK’s application for child use.
  • Glaxo pushed the antidepressant Paxil for children under 18 even though the drug had not been approved for treatment of youths and despite GSK’s own clinical trials showing the drug was ineffective for children and also heightened the risk of suicide and other self-harming behavior three-fold.
  • Glaxo marketed its antidepressant Wellbutrin as superior to other antidepressant alternatives due to increased sexual functioning and weight loss, marketing the drug as the “happy, horny, skinny” drug, to capture in a phrase GSK’s improper off-label marketing campaign for Wellbutrin.

GSK also paid physicians who could be counted on to recommend off-label drug uses to peers as much as $25,000 for being a GSK “advisory board” member and added nearly 50,000 healthcare professionals to its “Speaker’s Bureau.” The evidence in the case documents an extensive campaign to market a number of prescription drugs for off-label uses. Doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, but drug companies are not free to market the drugs for uses that were not approved by the FDA. Federal law also prohibits drug companies from paying kickbacks to physicians to induce prescriptions. Government-funded healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid generally preclude reimbursement for off-label prescriptions.

The case was pursued under the False Claims Act which allows for whistleblower suits to be brought by private citizens with knowledge of fraud to help the government recover money out of which it was defrauded. The False Claims Act allows for civil penalties ranging from $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim, as well as an award to a whistleblower (“the relator’s share”) which is generally 15-25 percent of the amount recovered through the qui tam suit.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Martin & Jones Reviews

  • "I just wanted you to know how much my family and I appreciate the work that you (Mike Riley) and everyone at Martin & Jones have done for us over the years. The initial settlements helped Mom and Dad live comfortably during his illness and afforded him the care that he needed. Since his passing nine years ago, your continued efforts on our behalf have been nothing short of a blessing. Mom, who will be 92 in September, has many medical issues but is still very sharp mentally, and enjoys being able to live at home. I just want you and everyone at Martin & Jones to know how grateful we are."

    Fred G., whose father had mesothelioma
  • "Thank you for everything that you have done for us. We are fortunate to know you. We appreciate all of the hard work, long hours and care that was shown to us before and during the trial. Without your help and representing us, we would not be as blessed as we are now. All of you are very special to us. We know that you have the best and attorneys and staff there is."

    Hazel P.
  • "Thank you for your concern of my well-being every time I spoke with you. It always meant so much. I hear nothing but awful stories of dealing with attorneys and their offices, but I have had nothing but positive experience. You have many special ways of working with people in need of help. Words can never express the way your support has been so helpful. I pray you will continue to help others. I wish you all the best."

    Mary C
  • "Forest, once again, my family and I thank you for obtaining another settlement on behalf of my Father. It's almost uncanny that these checks seem to come at very opportune times. This one comes as we are expecting our fourth grandchild. It will provide her some sound footing towards her future college education, plus help Mom and Dad with the medical expenses. Sometimes, I think my Dad is helping you guys with this. Maybe so. Anyway, thank you again for your hard work."

    Mike G.
  • "I appreciate all you're doing and trying to do for me. I don't think I've ever talked to a nicer attorney than Mike, and his assistant (certified paralegal Marjorie Kartanson). You're real nice people. It really makes you feel better, even with all the problems I have."

    Larry A.
  • "Thank you for the work you have done for Carl and our family. We so much appreciate your sincere professionalism and kindness you showed us. I know Carl is smiling right now and the Lord has blessed us through you. May God bless you."

    Connie M. whose husband Carl worked as a brakeman for CSX Transportation and died of mesothelioma
  • "Thank you for always making me feel welcome and at ease in your office. I respect the work you do and your enthusiasm for it and am grateful for your talents."

    Tracy M.
  • "I would like to leave a testimonial thanking Steven and Allison for their care and understanding. Steven's pursuit and success in getting some compensation for our loss. A final closure of our loss of brother Mike. Thanks to Martin & Jones for looking after Mike's care since his injury in 2005. You have been there for Mike and his family for a long time. Mike passed in 2016 and you stood for the family up to the present (July 2017). Many thanks."

    Dan I.
  • "We would like to express our gratitude to you (Hunt Willis) for accepting our case. First of all, when I called this law firm, a very sweet and kind lady answered the telephone and gave me assurance by asking and going over the accident with me, while my husband was in the hospital. I felt assured I was doing the right thing for us. She was so helpful in so many ways. What a professional lady. Secondly, we are much pleased that you have settled this case with the insurance company to receive the proper amount to assist us in so many ways. My husband and I are very happy with you and the firm in handling our case. You made us have confidence in your professional and integrity along with your assistant Ms. Routh, when you both came to see us in our home, in which we saw your compassion and thoughtfulness at that time. We will never forget what you have done for us, and we thank the lord for directing me to contact this firm. I’m glad I did."


"Thank you for your concern of my well-being every time I spoke with you. It always meant so much. I hear nothing but awful stories of dealing with attorneys and their offices, but I have had nothing but positive experience. You have many special ways of working with people in need of help. Words can never express the way your support has been so helpful. I pray you will continue to help others. I wish you all the best."

Mary C
View More Reviews
Contact US Get Help Now

Send us an email or call us today at 800-662-1234 to speak with an attorney about your claim or to arrange a free consultation. It costs nothing to call and there is no obligation. In fact, we are not paid until your case is resolved. Se habla español. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices in Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington, we will meet with you at your location.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Raleigh Office
410 Glenwood Avenue
Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27603

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-821-0005
Raleigh Law Office Map

Wilmington Office
1213 Culbreth Drive
Suite 121
Wilmington, NC 28405

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 910-256-4005
Wilmington Law Office Map

Durham Office
302 East Pettigrew Street
Suite 330
Durham, NC 27701

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-544-3000
Durham Law Office Map