January 2, 2011
Scott Pelley Reports Interviews Whistle-Blower Cheryl Eckard
Of all the things that you trust every day, you want to believe your prescription medicine is safe and effective. The pharmaceutical industry says that it follows the highest standards for quality. But in November, we found out just how much could go wrong at one of the world’s largest drug makers. A subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to distributing adulterated drugs.
There was reason to believe that some of the medications were contaminated with bacteria, others were mislabeled, and some were too strong or not strong enough. It’s likely Glaxo would have gotten away with it had it not been for a company insider: a tip from Cheryl Eckard set off a major federal investigation.
She’s never told the public what she saw inside Glaxo, but now she has. Her story opens a rare window on how one company traded its good name for bad medicine.
Glaxo Response to “60 Minutes” Report:
GlaxoSmithKline [GSK] issued the following response regarding a 60 Minutes program on January 2 that focused on a manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico which was formerly owned by the company.
GSK regrets the manufacturing issues at the Cidra facility, which were inconsistent with GSK’s commitment to manufacturing quality. It is important to note, however, that the issues outlined in the 60 Minutes story occurred in the past — between 2001 and early 2005 — and related to one manufacturing facility. GSK had been working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve the plant’s performance as early as 2001, before Cheryl Eckard was sent in 2002 as part of the team to address the issues cited by the FDA.
GSK strongly disagrees with 60 Minutes’ implication that patients suffered harm as a result of the Cidra issues. The FDA; the US Department of Justice; and Neil Getnick, Cheryl Eckard’s attorney, all stated there was no indication that patients were harmed as a result of the production issues at Cidra. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz herself stated: “We did not uncover any evidence that patients were harmed from these adulterated batches.”