In the wake of the American criminal action and settlement, GSK embarked on a communications campaign designed to show that under CEO Andrew Witty, who took over in 2008, the company had cleaned up its act.
There are allegations, however, that unacceptable sales tactics were still going on in 2010, when the company was found to be offering ‘extra incentives’ to staff who gathered in Las Vegas for the launch of the asthma spray Advair – in contravention of recommended guidelines.
The GSK and Roche cases show that UK drug companies have been less than prudent in seeking to make as much profit as possible in the shortest timeframe. GSK, under Witty’s guidance, says it is making a new start.
But the practices of big pharma are a stain on the reputation of the industry, and have had tragic outcomes for patients. In that sense, they place the sins of bankers in the shade.