By Greg Hammond, J.D.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay $19.5 million to 42 states and the District of Columbia to settle deceptive advertising and consumer protection claims concerning the off-label promotion of the prescription drug Abilify®. The multi-state agreement was led by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
In 2009, various states and the District of Columbia launched a consumer protection investigation of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., which manufactures Abilify, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which was largely responsible for promoting Abilify, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced. The states found that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in off-label marketing by illegally promoting Abilify for unapproved therapeutic uses, including certain pediatric uses and the treatment of dementia. Bristol-Myers Squibb also allegedly incentivized sales representatives to engage in off-label marketing, misled doctors and patients about the drug’s risks and side effects, and misrepresented the findings of scientific studies concerning the drug in marketing messages.
"Drug companies should not market their drug for off-label uses or make claims that are not supported by scientific evidence," commented New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "Consumers must be able to rely on their doctor’s advice for medication without having to worry about drug companies manipulating their advertising to promote their products at the expense of patients."
The various complaints and stipulated orders were filed individually in each state’s courts. Connecticut alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The stipulated final judgment prohibits Bristol-Meyers Squibb from making any written or oral claim that is false, misleading, or deceptive regarding an atypical antipsychotic, such as Abilify.
"These companies endangered and compromised the health and well-being of millions of Americans in order to turn a profit," stated Attorney General Harris. "This settlement makes clear that pharmaceutical companies using deceptive and unlawful tactics to promote drugs will not be tolerated in the United States."
Companies: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
MainStory: TopStory Advertising ConsumerProtection StateUnfairTradePractices
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