Whistleblower Complaints Lead to Probe of Allergan’s Marketing of Botox

Allergan Inc., has agreed to settle a federal investigation over how it marketed Botox, said the Associated Press (AP). Allergan Inc. allegedly promoted Botox Therapeutic for unapproved medical uses through Medicaid resulting in a combined $600 million in civil and criminal penalties. The settlement becomes official once a federal judge approves it, said the AP.

A whistleblower complaint led to the probe that lasted one year, with the Justice Department looking at Allergan’s marketing of Botox from 2001 through 2008. The five whistleblowers will split $37.8 million of the government’s settlement.

Private citizens who file lawsuits on behalf of the government alleging fraud are eligible for up to 18 percent of whatever is recovered as the result of a qui tam lawsuit. According to a press release, Allergan Inc. agreed to pay state governments and the federal government a combined $225 million civil settlement to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and other federal health programs for reimbursements wrongly paid for Botox Therapeutic. This includes $210 million to the federal government—the rest to a number of states—connected to the probe.

Off-label marketing violates the civil and criminal laws.” says Joel Androphy, Partner at the prestigous Nationwide law firm of Berg and Androphy. “In addition to misbranding a drug, many pharmaceutical companies pay kickbacks to doctors to induce more prescriptions. As long as companies compete for patients, off-label marketing will continue.”

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