Abbott Laboratories, Inc. (“Abbott”) has agreed to settle criminal and civil matters, including 4 separate whistleblower suits, related to the unlawful promotion of the drug Depakote for off-label uses. The settlement involves the payment of $700 million in criminal fines and forfeiture of assets, plus $800 million in payments to the federal government and several states to resolve False Claims Act allegations. It is the second highest payment by a pharmaceutical company.
Depakote was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. Abbott pleaded guilty to promoting Depakote to control agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, and in fact, from 1998 to 2006, it maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for that off-label use. Abbott also admitted to marketing Depakote for use in combination with atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, during the period from 2001 to 2006. In addition, Abbott admitted that it paid millions of dollars in unlawful rebates to pharmacy providers to encourage them to recommend the drug for these unapproved uses.
Four whistleblower suits were filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblowers alleged that Abbott’s unlawful marketing and illegal payments to health care professionals and pharmacy providers caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE.
According to the terms of the settlement of the qui tam cases, Abbott has agreed to pay $561 million to the federal government and $239 million to several states. As their reward, the whistleblowers will share $84 million of the settlement amount.
If you have any firsthand knowledge, information, or evidence related to any federal, state, county or city government fraud, you should speak with an experienced qui tam lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you have a claim, contact the Florida whistleblower attorneys at McCabe Rabin, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation by calling toll free at 877.915.4040 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.