Consumer Fraud

Fraud settlements with drug companies amount to big return for Mississippi taxpayers

depakote 1 Fraud settlements with drug companies amount to big return for Mississippi taxpayersMississippi Attorney General Jim Hood handed state lawmakers a check for more than $35 million in funds recovered by his office mainly from several cases of health care fraud committed by big-name pharmaceutical companies.

“Through our office’s hard work in the past several months, we are pleased to be able to return this money to the people,” Mr. Hood said.

The $35 million returned to Mississippi includes more than $13 million from an agreement to settle allegations of fraud amid the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) litigation with Barr Laboratories, Inc., IVAX Pharmaceuticals, Sicor Pharamceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Nearly $7 million came from two other AWP cases, including $5.9 from a settlement with Alpharma USPD, Purepac Pharmaceutical Co., Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc., and Par Pharmaceutical Inc., and $840,000 from an agreement with Abbott Laboratories to settle allegations of unfair and deceptive practices in its promotion and sale of its anti-seizure drug Depakote.

“These settlements are part of our ongoing commitment to protect the taxpayers of Mississippi,” Attorney General Hood said.  “We hope to return even more in the future.”

Earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges for fraudulently promoting Depakote for a number of unapproved, off-label purposes. The near-record payout, the second largest by a drug company, also resolved four whistleblower lawsuits brought against Abbott Laboratories under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share a percentage of funds recovered.

The settlement resolves legal matters between the State of Mississippi and Abbott Laboratories, but for many people who believe they or a loved one were been injured as a result of taking Depakote for unapproved purposes can still file a claim against the company for damages.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Abbott aggressively and illegally marketed Depakote as a remedy for nursing home patients with dementia and as a treatment for schizophrenia. The deceptive practices continued for years, even when Abbott knew Depakote is an ineffective and potentially dangerous treatment for patients with those conditions.

Sources:

WTVA Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson Free Press
U.S. Department of Justice