The health blog of The Wall Street Journal was the first to report Jan. 29 that GlaxoSmithKline is taking a $400 million hit related to federal and state probes into the drug giant’s research and marketing shenanigans. Glaxo announced the charge in its fourth quarter filings to the SEC but was coy about which drugs and investigations the money is slated for, or when a legal settlement can be expected. Jeanne Whalen followed the blog report up with an article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal in which she named two of Glaxo’s drugs that are currently under investigation: Paxil and Wellbutrin.

As a number of news outlets have reported in recent months, the U.S. Department of Justice has been focusing on Glaxo’s aggressive efforts to market Paxil, an SSRI antidepressant, for off-label uses in chidren and adolescents. As I’ve reported in this blog before (back story), DOJ officials are not only looking into off-label marketing (which is illegal) but into whether Glaxo officials pressured researchers to skew scientific data to make Paxil look safer and more effective in children and adolescents than it really was. (Such allegations are explored in some depth in my book, Side Effects). Given the latest news, I can only speculate that GlaxoSmithKline is getting ready to settle the Paxil probe to the tune of a $400 million fine.

A postscript: Now that I’m back to teaching, I am going to be taking a short hiatus from publishing this blog on a regular basis. I still hope to comment on key news items in the medical-pharmaceutical industry as they occur, but please don’t expect a weekly posting until the new semester’s dust settles down. Thanks for your understanding!

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