December 20, 2017

CT joins $13.5M multistate settlement with Boehringer Ingelheim

Connecticut is joining 49 other states and the District of Columbia in a $13.5 million settlement with Ridgefield's Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. to resolve allegations it engaged in off-label marketing and was misleading in its promotion of four prescription drugs.

The settlement requires court approval before it's final, according to today's announcement from Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. If approved by the court, Connecticut's share of the settlement funds will be $186,357.19 and will be deposited into the state's general fund.

The states alleged that the company misrepresented several of its drugs.

For example, it said Micardis, a hypertension medication, protected patients from "early morning risks" of stroke and heart attack and treated metabolic syndrome when, in fact, the company had no evidence to back it up.

It also said Aggrenox, an antiplatelet drug, was effective for many conditions "below the neck" -- such as heart attack and congestive heart failure -- and that it was superior to a better-known competitor, Plavix, without evidence to substantiate those claims.

It also made false claims about two other drugs -- Combivent and Atrovent -- both used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In an emailed response today, Boehringer Ingelheim said the allegations involve essentially the same conduct alleged in its 2012 settlement with the federal government and a select group of states bringing Medicaid claims.

"The period during which the alleged conduct occurred ended in 2008, and most allegations are now more than a decade old," the statement said. "As with the federal settlement, we are not admitting to any wrongdoing. We have agreed to the settlement to avoid the costs associated with a further prolonged legal process related to these allegations."

Boehringer Ingelheim said resolving the matter allows it to focus its energy and resources on researching and developing innovative products to improve patients' lives.

In addition to the settlement funds, Boehringer Ingelheim will be required to ensure its marketing and promotional practices do not unlawfully promote these prescription drugs.

The company will limit product sampling of the four drugs to healthcare providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product labeling and will not offer financial incentives for sales that may indicate off-label use of the drugs. It also will ensure clinically relevant information is provided in an unbiased manner distinct from promotional materials, according to the announcement.

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