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GlaxoSmithKline settles $105 million 'off-label' advertising dispute with 45 states

Attorneys General: GSK illegally promoted anti-depressants as weight-loss pills.

By Matt Bradwell
GlaxoSmithKline settles $105 million 'off-label' advertising dispute with 45 states
A pharmacy counter at a local pharmacy in Washington, DC. (UPI/Billie Jean Shaw)

SAN FRANCISCO, June 4 (UPI) -- British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has reached a $105 million settlement with 45 U.S. states over alleged illegal marketing of antidepressant and asthma drugs. California will receive the largest portion of the settlement.

In the settlement, the company admits no wrongdoing or liability, similar to $3 billion settlement it reached with the federal government for criminal and civil charges also stemming from questionable advertising practices.

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"This settlement requires GSK to pay a significant penalty and imposes strong new rules designed to prevent future misrepresentations of GSK products," California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said via statement.

Harris, along with attorneys general representing 44 other states and the District of Columbia, alleges GlaxoSmithKline violated consumer protection laws by illegally marketing antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for children and teens, despite lacking FDA approval for use on minors.

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Additionally, Wellbutrin was marketed as an "off-label" solution for weight loss, attention deficit disorder, addiction, anxiety and bipolar disorder. It is approved to treat none of those illnesses or disorders.

"GlaxoSmithKline put its business interests ahead of what was best for vulnerable patients," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the Chicago Tribune. "This settlement will put a stop to the illegal marketing practices the company used to boost its sales."

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States who have confirmed participating in the settlement include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

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