Pa. to receive half-million dollars from national drug co. settlement

By Jon Campisi | Nov 16, 2012

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office on Nov. 15 announced that the

commonwealth will receive more than a half-million dollars as part of a $95 million national settlement against a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company.

The settlement resolves off-label marketing allegations against Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.

The company was alleged to have violated the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims acts by engaging in off-label marketing campaigns that improperly promoted the drugs Atrovent, Combivent, Micardis and Aggrenox.

The settlement said that the drug manufacturer unlawfully marketed the drugs for various non-FDA approved uses, including Aggrenox for certain cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease; Combivent for use prior to another bronchodilator in treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; and Micardis for treatment of early diabetic kidney disease.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced that the pharmaceutical company also promoted the sale and use of Combivent and Atrovent at doses that exceeded those covered by federal healthcare programs and also made unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of Aggrenox.

In a statement, Kelly said that the settlement also resolves allegations that BIPI paid kickbacks to healthcare providers as “encouragement” to prescribe the aforementioned drugs to patients.

As an additional condition of the settlement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Inspector General will closely monitor the company for future marketing and sales practices through a Corporate Integrity Agreement entered into by the parties.

Pennsylvania will receive more than $513,000 from the settlement, Kelly announced. More than $34 million of the entire $95 million settlement will go toward various states’ Medicaid programs.

Suit was originally filed against the pharmaceutical company in federal court in Maryland.

Other states seeing money from the settlement are Ohio, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Oregon.

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