This Month in Corruption: Improprieties, Deceptions, Misrepresentations

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Surgical Device Boosted by Deceptive Marketing. On Dec. 13, AG Healey announced that Massachusetts will receive $2.4 million from a medical device company as part of a multi-state settlement that resolved allegations of unlawfully promoting a device used in certain surgical procedures. 

In a consent judgment entered that day in Suffolk Superior Court, Boston, Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., and Metronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., agreed to resolve claims they had engaged in a deceptive marketing strategy for a device intended to stimulate bone growth.
“Companies cannot use deceptive practices to increase their profits, while compromising the safety and well-being of patients,” Healey said.  “With this settlement, we are bringing more than $2 million back to Massachusetts after uncovering this unlawful conduct.”

The payment was part of a $12 million multi-state settlement that also involved Oregon, California, Illinois and Washington.
Benefits of Four Prescription Drugs Misrepresented  On Dec. 20, AG Healey announced that Massachusetts will receive nearly $250,000 from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI) as part of a nationwide settlement to resolve allegations that the company had unlawfully marketed four of its prescription drugs: Micardis, Aggrenox, Atrovent, and Combivent. The payment is part of a $13.5 million multi-state settlement that concluded an investigation by Healey and 50 other attorneys general.

According to a press release from the AG, the states specifically alleged 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 alleged 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).  BIPI further stood accused of falsely stating that Atrovent and Combivent could be used at doses exceeding the maximum dosage recommendations in the product labelling and that they were essential for treatment of COPD.
“Misrepresenting the benefits of prescription drugs puts people’s health at risk,” said Healey.  “Companies cannot compromise the well-being of patients to make a profit.”

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