Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline responded to a scathing "60 Minutes" report on its former manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico by stressing that patients weren't hurt by the problems that arose there years ago.
"GSK strongly disagrees with '60 Minutes' ' implication that patients suffered harm as a result of the [plant] issues," the company said in a statement issued Monday, a day after the story aired on CBS's TV show.
For a major consumer products company like GSK, being the subject of a negative report on the popular show can cause lasting damage. The "60 Minutes" segment was titled "Bad Medicine" and centered on a federal government lawsuit that contended the company sold tainted drugs made at its plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico.
In October GSK agreed to pay $150 million in criminal fines and $600 million in civil penalties to settle the suit.
GSK decided to issue its statement Monday because the newsmagazine "misrepresented the situation," spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said. "We felt there was additional information the public needed to know."
The issues outlined in the report happened between 2001 and 2005 and were related to one manufacturing facility, GSK said. "GSK regrets the manufacturing issues at the [Puerto Rico] facility, which were inconsistent with GSK's commitment to manufacturing quality."
The federal lawsuit stemmed from complaints made by a whistleblower, Cheryl Eckard, a former quality assurance manager who worked out of the London-based company's U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park.
Eckard was the star attraction Sunday on the "60 Minutes" report.
"Eckard says water used to make tablets was tainted with bacteria; failures on production lines made some drugs too strong, some not strong enough; and the employees were contaminating products," the show reported.
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