Glaxo to pay $41mil for drug quality

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said it is paying $41 million (about R278 million) to settle allegations of poor drug quality at a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico.

The drugmaker did not admit to any wrongdoing at the now shuttered factory, but said it agreed to the settlement "to avoid the expense and uncertainty of protracted litigation and trial," a company statement said. The payment will be distributed across 37 states and the District of Columbia.

"The company did not admit to any wrongdoing or liability of any kind under these states' consumer protection laws in this settlement," the statement said. At the centre of the dispute is a plant in Cidra. A company insider told the US news show 60 Minutes that contaminated and poorly dosed medications were being produced there. A federal investigation ensued.

GlaxoSmithKline rejected the accusations and said there was no evidence that patients had been harmed.

Federal regulators, the US Department of Justice and the whistelblower Cheryl Eckard's attorney, "all stated there was no indication that patients were harmed as a result of the production issues at Cidra," the company said in response to the CBS report.

GlaxoSmithKline said it closed the plant in 2009 because of "declining demand for the medicines made there."

Before selling the factory in 2010, the drugmaker insisted it "brought it into compliance and to a high level of performance that satisfied both GSK and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)."

(Sapa, June 2011)

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