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Drug makers to pay NC to settle improper marketing claims

Posted February 22, 2011

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— Five pharmaceutical companies have paid more than $25 million combined to North Carolina following investigations by the state’s Medicaid Investigations Unit, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

“We’re working to keep medical costs down and save taxpayers’ money by aggressively going after fraud by drug companies,” Cooper, who oversees the special unit that fights health care fraud and patient abuse, said in a statement.

GlaxoSmithKline paid the state $11.8 million to resolve allegations that GSK knowingly manufactured and sold four products – controlled-release antidepressant Paxil CR, diabetes medication Avandamet, anti-nausea drug Kytril and antibiotic ointment Bactroban – whose strength, purity and quality did not meet FDA standards.

Novartis paid $6.2 million to resolve allegations that it made illegal payments to health care professionals to encourage them promote and prescribe six Novartis drugs – Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge and Tekturna – for uses not approved by the FDA.

Forest Laboratories paid $5.4 million to resolve allegations that it marketed anti-depressants Celexa and Lexapro for use in children even though the FDA approved the drugs to treat adults only and that it continued to distribute Levothroid to treat thyroid problems even after the FDA removed it from the list of covered outpatient drugs.

Allergan paid $1.4 million to resolve allegations that it improperly marketing its drug Botox for uses not approved by the FDA.

Kos Pharmaceuticals paid $415,425 to settle charges that it marketed cholesterol drugs Advicor and Niaspan for unapproved uses and paid doctors kickbacks to encourage use of the drugs.

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