Judge Tosses Out Indictment Of In-House Lawyer

The case against Lauren Stevens, the former vice president and associate general counsel of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been dismissed without prejudice, according to news sources.

Last week, Stevens asked US District Judge Roger Titus to dismiss the case at a hearing in Greenbelt, Maryland, that was ruled in her favour. 

Stevens, the British pharmaceutical company’s former associate general counsel, was accused last year of providing false statements to the Food and Drug Administration through a series of letters in 2003 denying that the company has been promoting a drug for unapproved uses, the DoJ says. Previously, Stevens claimed the company did not have promotional slides, which the FDA sought during its probe. Under US law, drug companies are not allowed to promote a drug for a use not approved by the FDA.

According to Dick Cassin, lawyer and owner of the FCPA Blog, the judge ruled that Stevens was entitled to use the defence of advice of the counsel, and that the DoJ’s explanation of that defence to the grand jury was not accurate. 

The government argued that the false statements are considered a general intent crime and that a ‘good faith reliance on advice of counsel is only a defence to specific intent crimes,’ writes Ellen Podgor, a crime research professor, on the White Collar Crime Prof Blog.

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