Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 50 AGs Reach $13.5M Settlement with Pharmaceutical Company for Misleading Marketing of Four Drugs

December 20, 2017 | Topic: Consumers

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 50 other Attorneys General today announced a $13.5 million settlement with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for its unfair, deceptive and misleading marketing of four prescription drugs.

Pennsylvania will receive nearly $600,000 from the multistate settlement, which will be used to support more consumer protection enforcement cases brought by the Office of Attorney General.

“Consumers, particularly senior citizens, rely on doctors and drug manufacturers to provide accurate information about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “When a company misrepresents the benefit of a drug, it can cause real harm to consumers. I won’t allow Pennsylvanians to be hurt by companies that make these kind of misleading claims, and I’m holding Boehringer Ingelheim accountable for its deceptive conduct.”

Specifically, the Attorneys General allege Boehringer Ingelheim:

  • Misrepresented that its antiplatelet drug, Aggrenox, was effective for many conditions “below the neck” – like heart attacks and congestive heart failure.
  • Misrepresented that Micardis protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks and treated metabolic syndrome.
  • Misrepresented that Combivent could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Falsely stated that Atrovent and Combivent could be used at doses that exceeded the maximum dosage recommendation in the product labeling and that they were essential for treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

As a result of the settlement, Boehringer Ingelheim will:

  • Limit product sampling of the four drugs to health care providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product labeling.
  • Stop offering financial incentives for sales that may indicate off-label use of any of the four drugs.
  • Ensure clinically relevant information is provided in an unbiased manner that is distinct from promotional materials.
  • Make sure that requests for off-label information regarding any of the four drugs are referred to Boehringer Ingelheim’s Medical Division for review.

“Pharmaceutical companies have to market and sell their drugs in a responsible and ethical manner,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “When they do not, my colleagues and I will hold them accountable, force change in corporate behavior, and ensure a safer, more transparent healthcare marketplace for consumers and patients.”

Attorney General Shapiro and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt led the settlement executive committee, which also includes Attorneys General from Arizona, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. Attorneys General from all 50 states and the District of Columbia  participated in the settlement.

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