Abbott Laboratories reached a settlement with the Justice Department and several states over illegal marketing practices for its anti-seizure drug Depakote, in which Abbott will pay $1.6 billion in criminal and civil fines. The announcement generated heavy media coverage, including a brief mention on ABC World News.
ABC World News reported, "Tonight one of the largest drug companies, Abbott Laboratories, has agreed to a staggering settlement. Today $1.6 billion in criminal and civil fines for improperly marketing the anti-seizure drug Depakote in nursing homes. The company convinced the nursing homes to use the drug to treat aggression in dementia patients, despite the lack of credible evidence that the drug was effective for that use."
The New York Times reports, "The settlement comes as the Justice Department and the states have increased scrutiny of the sales and marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies, particularly in cases in which they market drugs for uses that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration."
The Wall Street Journal reports that in addition to the fines, Abbott would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a federal drug law.
The Washington Post notes the settlement "is the second-largest in a string of multimillion-dollar payouts in recent years resulting from stepped-up enforcement by the Justice Department and state investigators against drug makers that 'misbrand' their products. The company will to plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding. Abbott also agreed to a five-year probationary period in which it must report any probable violations of the law to the probation office."
The Chicago Tribune reports, "As part of the settlement agreement, North Chicago-based Abbott said it would pay $800 million to resolve civil cases brought by federal and state governments, $700 million in criminal penalties and $100 million to states to resolve consumer protection matters. The company will plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding. Abbott also agreed to a five-year probationary period in which it must report any probable violations of the law to the probation office."
The Chicago Sun-Times reports, "The company admitted that it trained a specialized sales force to promote Depakote in treating dementia because the drug was not subject to federal regulations designed to prevent the use of unnecessary medications in nursing homes."