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Feds: GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3B for Illegally Marketing Drugs

GLAXOSMITHKLINE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Heathcare giant GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to an unprecedented $3 billion settlement with the U.S. government over allegations that the company advertised drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and then used lavish gifts to convince doctors to prescribe the drugs.

In one instance, a drug was widely promoted to help treat depression even though the FDA had never tested it for such a use, according to the Department of Justice.  The multi-billion dollar settlement is the largest in U.S. history for alleged healthcare fraud, government officials said.

GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, is a major manufacturer of prescription medication, vaccines and consumer healthcare products.  On its website, the company boasts, "every minute more than 1,100 prescriptions are written for GSK products."

In a 2011 Corporate Responsbility Report, GSK addressed the government's allegations broadly, saying, "Some people are concerned that marketing by pharmaceutical companies may exert undue influence on doctors, that sales representatives may not always give doctors full information about the products they are promoting, or that there may be promotion of medicines for unapproved uses."

GSK goes on in that document to say that the company has "fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the USA to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity and that we conduct our business openly and transparently."

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