TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced today that New Jersey has entered into a $13.5 million, multi-state settlement that resolves allegations that Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. unlawfully promoted certain prescription drugs for off-label use and made deceptive claims about the efficacy of those drugs.
The multi-state investigation focused on Boehringer’s marketing and promotion of four brand-name prescription drugs – Aggrenox, Micardis, Combivent and Atrovent – and its allegedly unlawful conduct in carrying out the marketing and promotion effort.
Specifically, the states alleged that Boehringer engaged in a course of trade or commerce that constituted unfair, deceptive, and misleading practices by making misrepresentations about the drugs, and by representing that they had sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities they did not have.
For example, the company allegedly misrepresented that its antiplatelet drug, Aggrenox, was effective for treating many conditions “below the neck” such as heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and that it was superior to competing drug Plavix without providing evidence to substantiate that claim.
The states also alleged that Boehringer misrepresented that its drug Micardis protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks and treated metabolic syndrome, and misrepresented that its drug Combivent could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In addition, Boehringer was accused of falsely stating that its drugs Atrovent and Combivent could be used at doses exceeding the maximum dosage recommended in their product labeling, and that the two drugs were essential for treatment of COPD.
“Anyone who seeks to profit by making misleading or unfounded claims about a prescription drug’s effectiveness, by encouraging consumption of the drug that exceeds recommended dosage, or by making baseless claims of product superiority compared with other drugs is betraying the public trust and, potentially, putting consumers at risk,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We are committed to ensuring that drug manufacturers represent their products accurately and responsibly, and that they do so in accordance with state and federal law.”
Under a Consent Judgment outlining the settlement terms, German-based Boehringer must ensure that its marketing practices do not unlawfully promote Aggrenox, Micardis, Combivent and Atrovent. Specifically, the company will:
All 50 states and the District of Columbia are participating in the Boehringer Ingelheim settlement. New Jersey’s share of the multi-state settlement payment is approximately $287,000.
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