- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Boston — Massachusetts will receive nearly $250,000 from a pharmaceutical company in a multistate settlement resolving allegations that it unlawfully marketed four of its prescription drugs, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
A consent judgment was entered today in Suffolk Superior Court against Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI) regarding its alleged off-label marketing and misleading representations made in promoting four of its prescription drugs: Micardis, Aggrenox, Atrovent, and Combivent.
“Misrepresenting the benefits of prescription drugs puts people’s health at risk,” said AG Healey. “Companies cannot compromise the well-being of patients to make a profit.”
The payment is part of a $13.5 million multistate settlement that concludes an investigation conducted by AG Healey and 50 other state attorneys general.
The settlement resolves allegations that BIPI used unfair, deceptive, or misleading practices by making misrepresentations about the prescription drugs including representing that the drugs had benefits that they did not have.
Specifically, the states allege that BIPI misrepresented that its antiplatelet drug, Aggrenox, was effective for many conditions “below the neck,” such as heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and that it was superior to Plavix without evidence to substantiate that claim. The states also allege that the company misrepresented that Micardis protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks and treated metabolic syndrome and misrepresented that Combivent could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Further, BIPI allegedly 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 COPD.
The consent judgment requires BIPI to ensure that its marketing and promotional practices do not unlawfully promote these prescription drug products. Specifically, BIPI will:
- Limit product sampling of the four drugs to health care providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product labeling;
- Refrain from 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; and
- Provide that requests for off-label information regarding any of the four drugs are referred to BIPI’s Medical Division.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael W. Wong of the AG’s Health Care Division, with assistance from Health Care Division Chief Eric Gold and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Vogel, also of the AG’s Health Care Division.