Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay out $750 million in fines to settle civil and criminal lawsuits alleging that the company knowingly sold contaminated drugs and products. The whistleblower lawsuit was filed in 2004 by Cheryl Eckard, a former GSK quality control manager. Eckard accused the company of dismissing her reports that its Puerto Rico plant had numerous quality control problems that “included details about mixed-up products, super and subpotent diabetes drugs, an area of the factory used to make injectible drugs that were not sterile, air handling systems that misdirected the flow of product powders, a water system contaminated with microorganisms, and a host of other manufacturing and quality testing problems.” After repeated attempts to have the company close the plant to address the issues Eckard was fired in 2003.
The terms of the settlement include a $600 million civil payment for the distribution of a contaminated antibiotic ointment and the sale of a non-sterile anti-nausea injection for cancer patients. The remaining $150 million was paid to settle the criminal charges against the company. The Puerto Rico plant that was the focus of the lawsuit was closed in 2009.