Glaxosmithkline Chief Says ‘Mistakes Were Made’

| Jul 2, 2012 | Defective Drugs |

As Katie Thomas and Michael S. Schmidt report for the New York Times, GSK must pay $3 billion for criminal health care fraud related to illegal promotion of drugs (Paxil and Wellbutrin) and failure to report safety information about another drug (Avandia).

Avandia and Actos are two drugs used heavily in the treatment of diabetes. (Actos was apparently not part of this case.)

“On behalf of GSK,” CEO Andrew Witty said, “I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made.”

President Richard Nixon infamously gave the passive-language expression “mistakes were made” a life of its own when he was being investigated for the Watergate scandal.

The expression was used before Nixon and is used to this day. The chief of the drug company GlaxoSmithKline used it recently in a public statement, quoted above, regarding the largest drug company settlement on record.

Phrasing it this way does not implicate the speaker or writer, nor does it really implicate anyone else within the company. The “mistakes were made” expression has been characterized as a non-apology apology. In this way, GSK acknowledges error but at the same time distances itself from it.

Of course, hitting GSK with a $3 billion payment hits them where it hurts – and might be enough to prevent future mistakes being made.

Source: Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement