Saturday, February 26, 2011

Update on the prosecution of former GSK in-house counsel


I’ve recently blogged about the criminal prosecution of former GSK in-house counsel Lauren Stevens.  Stevens was indicted for obstruction, concealment of documents, and making false statements.  The allegations stem from her involvement in responding to an FDA inquiry to GSK regarding off-label marketing of GSK’s antidepressant product Wellbutrin SR.  Stevens was employed at the time as a Vice President and an Associate General Counsel at GSK. 

Currently before the court is a motion by the Government to prevent Stevens from presenting the defense of “advice of counsel” at trial.  (No ruling yet—I’ll post it as soon as it hits PACER.)

In a twist, it appears that Stevens’ defense team is starting to get aggressive.  Even though Stevens is not charged with conspiracy, her defense team requests the Government identify all those who allegedly conspired with her to obstruct the FDA’s inquiry.  (The defense's most recent filing is below.)  I’ll post the Government’s response and the Court’s order when they hit PACER.

Either Stevens is taking the position that: 1) if she goes down the whole ship goes down or 2) she was in fact simply relying upon her subordinates and outside counsel to ensure compliance with the FDA inquiry (which would be a hard sell given the sophistication required to occupy such a high position with a multi-billion dollar company).  Below is an excerpt from the defense motion.


In response to the FDA inquiry, Ms. Stevens on behalf of GSK sent a series of letters and attached documents to FDA.  See Indict. ¶¶ 12-41.  In preparing the Company’s responses, Ms. Stevens was part of a larger legal team that included both in-house and outside counsel.[]   Ms. Stevens expects that the evidence at trial will show that the members of the legal team working with her had intimate knowledge of and involvement with the preparation of GSK’s responses, and that in her interactions with the FDA she acted consistently with the advice she received.  Ms. Stevens expects that many of the Attorney Witnesses will testify at trial, and that their testimony will support her contention that she did not engage in criminal conduct.
 US v. Stevens (Def. Memo Re Name Co-consp.)                                                              

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