Whistleblowers Attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Abbott Labs Case: Basic Facts

Minneapolis employment law attorney discusses the basic facts of the $1.5 billion settlement against Abbott Labs for off-label sales in violation of the False Claims Act.

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In the Abbott Labs case, our client was a salesperson for Abbott Labs. They had a very popular drug called Depakote. It had a FDA indication for a particular purpose, epilepsy, and the company began selling it for other reasons, for other uses such as forms of dementia, schizophrenia. And those markets became larger than the market for epilepsy, so it pushed its salespeople to market to physicians for the – it’s called an “indication.” The epilepsy is – the drug is indicated for epilepsy treatment. However, if it’s not indicated, that’s called “off-label sales,” which means that you cannot market to physicians or anyone for a reason that is not indicated.

So by going and selling to physicians for the particular other off-label uses, that was government fraud because Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs are paying oftentimes – reimbursing patients – for that kind of medication. So our client went forward with a number of other whistleblowers and brought this information to the government. The government investigated the case over a number of years and concluded that, in fact, the company was selling the drug off-label. After years of negotiation and investigation, the government finally settled with the company and for $1.6 billion. $700 million of that was for a criminal penalty and $800 million was for a civil penalty. So our client shared with a number of other relators $84 million for bringing forward that information.

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