Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. has agreed to pay $13.5 million to resolve charges it used deceptive marketing that promoted drug usage beyond what’s indicated on the labeling of four of its prescription drugs: Micardis, Aggrenox, Atrovent, and Combivent. The labeling means the prescribing information for health care providers.
The settlement, joined by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, requires BIPI to change its advertising practices.
“Drug companies that misrepresent their products dangerously jeopardize patients’ health in order to increase profits,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. “Consumers should be able to trust that the advertised benefits of prescription drugs are supported by scientific evidence, not exaggerated claims.”
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Schneiderman alleges BIPI misrepresented that:
- Its antiplatelet drug, Aggrenox, was effective for many conditions “below the neck,” such as heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and that it was superior to Plavix without evidence to prove that claim.
- Micardis protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks, as well as treated metabolic syndrome.
- Combivent could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with COPD.
- Atrovent and Combivent could be used at doses that exceeded the maximum dosage recommendation in the product labeling and that they were essential for COPD treatment.
The settlement requires BIPI to ensure that its marketing and advertising practices don’t unlawfully promote these prescription drug products. BIPI will:
- Limit product sampling of the four drugs to health care providers who are following the directions on the product labeling.
- Stop offering health care providers financial incentives for sales that may be for the unapproved use of any of the four drugs.
- Ensure unbiased medical information is provided that is separate from promotional materials.
- Refer requests for unapproved usage information for any of the four drugs to BIPI’s Medical Division.