The Justice Department announced a settlement they reached with a drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, in which GSK agreed to pay Three Billion Dollars in fines!
The fines arose out of allegations that the drug maker engaged in fraud and bribery. The startling revelation about the drug company hit all the major news networks last night. The United States Justice Department calls this the biggest case of healthcare fraud in American history. The drug maker is accused of withholding critical safety information about a diabetes drug called Avandia. At the same time they withheld critical safety information about this drug, the giant drug maker was pushing its sales force to be fierce in their selling of the drug, and the company engaged in incentives labeled as bribery for those doctors that prescribed the drugs to the patients. The failure to disclose the safety information resulted in the drugs being pushed on consumers without knowledge of the dangers and in situations where the drug was not appropriate.
This is an unusual blog for me since I blog only about maritime legal issues, including cruise ship law news. However, this penalty, and the allegations, made me think of the many years which the cruise lines have been accused of failing to disclose the dangers that passengers can face when taking a cruise, including those dangers that are present in the various ports that the cruise ship companies take the passengers to. The allegations have been that the cruise ship companies for years tried to sweep under the carpet dangers, such as sexual assaults and rapes, and other crimes, aboard the cruise ships. As a result, unsuspecting passengers let their guard down, which resulted in more rapes and crimes onboard the cruise ships. Eventually, Congress addressed these issues and passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in 2010. This legislation was prompted by Congressional hearings addressing cruise ship safety and crimes. I testified at these Congressional hearings as an invited Maritime Legal Expert.
I was thinking that the cruise line got away cheap by simply having some additional legislation pass which impose mandatory reporting requirements as to certain crimes that occur aboard cruise ships so that passengers can go to a website and view the number of crimes reported onboard a cruise ship, and be better aware of the dangers. No fines have ever been imposed against the cruise ship companies, to my knowledge, for failure to disclose known dangers to passengers. The only remedy a passenger can possibly pursue is a civil action against the cruise ship company for damages suffered as a result of the failure to disclose dangers that are known, or should have been known, by the cruise ship company. Our Maritime law firm has been handling both passenger and crewmember cases for many years, and has handled thousands of claims.
If anyone feels they have been a victim of a crime, or suffered harm as a result of some danger they believe the cruise ship company knew and did not warn them about, including incidents that occur during shore side excursions, or while visiting a particular port, they should immediately contact a Maritime legal expert to discuss their rights.
The giant drug maker was fined heavily for failing to provide critical information to consumers that they knew were relevant to decisions not only by the physicians as to whether to prescribe a particular medication, but relevant to the consumers as to whether to consume this medication.
Cruise ship passengers deserve to be told about all the dangers that they may face when taking a cruise. This will enable the passenger to make an informed decision about whether to cruise or not, and will also cause the passenger to act accordingly in view of a warning about a particular danger.
Our Miami Maritime law firm continues to act as safety advocates for those harmed at sea. We also regularly publish articles on our Maritime blogs, one entitled The Law of the Sea, and the other is now part of what is called the Legal Examiner.