60 Minutes And GlaxoSmithKline’s Whistleblower

Yet another ‘how does Glaxo get away with it’ story….

Cheryl Eckards’ job, as manager of Glaxo’s global quality assurance, “was to inspect plants to make sure that the drugs had the right ingredients, the right potency and met government standards for purity.” In fact, she was sent in because an FDA inspection had already seen problems as this plant [Cidra] (noting that “FDA inspections of drug plants are only occasional, so it’s up to drug companies to police themselves” – which is why litigation is such a critical backup.)  But as 60 Minutes put it, Eckard “found much more than the FDA had.”  For example,

The employees were contaminating products, including the anti-bacterial ointment Bactroban, which was made in a sealed tank to prevent contamination.

“They were opening up the lid and then they were sticking their body into the tank and scraping it with like a paddle,” Eckard said.

“But this product is supposed to be free of bacteria. Why would they do that?” Pelley asked.

“It saved money,” Eckard replied.

As her team continued its evaluation of the plant, Eckard says she discovered something much worse than contamination: because of failures on various production lines, she says that powerful medications were getting mixed up.

“Are you saying that different kinds of drugs were packed into the same bottle?” Pelley asked.

“Yes. And that’s shocking,” she replied.

Cheryl warned and pleaded and warned and pleaded with her bosses to shut this plant down.

Then she was fired.

See the video here (bottom of the page)… oh, and check out the sleazy response by Ian McCubbin, senior vice president at Glaxo in London: “I don’t know Cheryl Eckard. And I don’t all the details of her accusations.”  Could it happen again?  “I absolutely hope not,” he replied.

%d bloggers like this: