An Ohio-based health insurer is accusing a group of drugmakers of federal racketeering and fraud for alleged “fraudulent marketing schemes” to boost sales of testosterone treatments by “deceiving patients, primary care physicians, and third-party payers about the drugs’ safety and efficacy for treating certain conditions,” thus gouging the insurer and other third-party payers.
The lawsuit names Abbvie, Solvay Besins, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Activis and other manufacturers of testosterone replacement therapies.
Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO) claims that the drug companies’ misrepresentations led it and other third-party payers to reimburse payments for purportedly “medically inappropriate (testosterone) prescriptions,” the complaint states. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly, however, dismissed a bulk of the claims in the putative class action.
MMO claims that aggressive marketing by testosterone manufacturers led MMO to pay out large sums in reimbursement – as much as $38.9 million – from November 2001 through April 2015.
Testosterone replacement therapies, such as popular brand names AndroGel, Axrion and Testim, are FDA approved to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which men produce too little testosterone due to injury or disease. It is not recommended as a treatment for age-related hypogonadism.
The drug companies currently face hundreds of lawsuits – which were consolidated into a nationwide multidistrict litigation in Chicago federal court – from men who claim they were injured by the drugs. Those lawsuits also allege the drug companies misled men into thinking they were candidates for testosterone therapy through direct-to-consumer advertisements. Those ads created a condition the drugmakers coined, “Low T,” and said use of testosterone treatment could improve symptoms such as low libido, muscle loss and weight gain.
Even more troubling is that testosterone therapy was linked to a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death within the first three years of use. The synthetic hormones have also been liked to a significant increase in heart attack and stroke within the first 90 days of treatment.
Later this year, the court will select certain bellwether cases from the multidistrict litigation to go to trial. Those trials are expected to begin spring of 2017.
Source: Cook County Record