5 healthcare marketing legal cases in the past 6 months

Hospitals and healthcare companies are launching new campaigns and finding ways to better engage with patients in the digital world, but not all marketing efforts go off without a hitch.

Here are five hospitals and pharmaceutical companies that have dealt with legal issues revolving around their marketing initiatives and departments since October 2020.

1. In October, a former patient sued UPMC Susquehanna for fraud, alleging the health system deliberately made false representations to the public by using phrases such as "life-changing medicine" in advertisements. The Pittsburgh-based health system said it couldn't be sued for fraud over "puffery" phrases in ads and asked the court to dismiss the fraud claim.

2. A former senior development and marketing specialist at McLaren Northern Michigan in Petoskey in October pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from the hospital and was sentenced to a year in jail. The former employee admitted to transferring $12,000 from a hospital-issued credit card to personal PayPal accounts and using the card to pay for $4,5000 in personal expenses.

3. Pharmaceutical company Indivior was ordered to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection to its guilty plea related to marketing opioid addiction treatment drug Suboxone in November.

4. John Kapoor, the former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, agreed to pay New Jersey $5 million in January to settle allegations of improper opioid marketing, which helped to fuel the opioid epidemic.

5. In February, Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi were ordered to pay $834 million to the state of Hawaii after a judge ruled that the drugmakers misleadingly marketed their blood-thinning drug, Plavix. Lawyers for Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connor showed evidence that the drugmakers didn't properly disclose that Plavix was ineffective for as many as 30 percent of patients in the state of Hawaii.


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