So, what does professional hockey have to do with pharmaceuticals? One could argue that there is a lot of overlap in the use of pharmaceuticals to treat injuries incurred as a result of playing pro hockey. However, in this blog, the two are separate examples of personal injury law—one is an example of a consumer fraud class-action lawsuit, and the other is news of a major payout by a major pharmaceuticals company, the result of the company’s negligence.
Let’s start with hockey: the team in question is the Philadelphia Flyers, and their parent company, Comcast-Spectacor Now, for all of you Panthers, Devils or Rangers fans out there, put aside your disdain for your arch-enemy Flyers because this is more about the rule of law than the rule of rivalries. Now, why did season ticket holders sue the Flyers? Not because they failed to make it to the Stanley Cup, but because they feel that they were duped into buying a regular season ticket package that did not include the 2012 Winter Classic game, hosted in Philadelphia, during the regular season, in the outdoor Phillies stadium adjacent to the Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers typically play home games. The ticketholder agreement included 44 home games (3 preseason, and 41 regular season).
The attorneys for the season ticket holders argues that the team and Comcast-Spectacor misled prospective (and subsequent) ticket holders by not disclosing the fact that the famed Winter Classic game would not be included as part of the package. The lawyers suing the team and its parent company argue that the game should have been included because it was a “regular-season” game played on “regulation” ice in the home city location of the team for which the season tickets were purchased. We will let you know how this lawsuit turns out.
Next, we move to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s most well known pharmaceutical companies. GSK has been issued a $3 billion fine by the United States Justice Department after the company failed to report safety information regarding some of the company’s most popular prescription drugs. The $3 billion fine was reached via the combination of $1 billion for criminal wrongdoing and $2 billion for civil liabilities. This settlement is the largest fraud settlement in the history of this country, and the largest payment to date by a pharmaceutical company. Two of the most popular drugs that were at the center of this issue were Paxil and Wellbutrin, both of which are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety issues.
Among the issues in this case were the facts that Paxil was inappropriately marketed to children and adolescents and that Wellbutrin was advertised as a weight-loss aid. Both marketing schemes had not been approved. This settlement shows that companies do pay for the harm they cause to consumers.
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