At least 12 physicians disciplined by state medical boards following involvement with Avanir Pharmaceuticals: 7 things to know

At least a dozen of the 500 physicians Avanir Pharmaceuticals reportedly paid to speak or consult about one of its medications were found to have been disciplined by state medical boards regarding allegations of illegal or inappropriate prescribing, among other offenses, according to an investigation by CNN.

Here are seven things to know about the case.

1. At least a dozen physicians paid to speak on behalf of Avanir Pharmaceuticals about its drug, Nuedexta, were disciplined by state medical boards. The physicians were allegedly accused of a range of offenses, including the harmful treatment of nursing home residents, inappropriate or illegal prescribing practices, and insurance fraud, among others.

2. The disciplinary actions leveled against some physicians included probation, suspension, fines and revoked medical licenses, according to the report. CNN also reportedly identified several physicians hired by the drugmaker who maintained clean records prior to their involvement with Avanir, but were found to have engaged in inappropriate or illegal behavior after working with the drugmaker.

3. The OIG confirmed to CNN the office has launched a federal investigation into at least one physician regarding their prescribing of Nuedexta.

4. Nuedexta, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is used to treat pseudobulbar affect, a condition involving uncontrollable laughing and crying. According to CNN's investigation, some physicians had allegedly prescribed Nuedexta to dementia patients to control their "unruly behaviors."

5. Avanir reportedly paid physicians nearly $14 million for Nuedexta-related consulting between 2013 and 2016, the report states. While paying physicians for promotional speaking is legal, the practice raises various ethical concerns regarding the physician-patient relationship.

6. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer launched a probe into Avanir Pharmaceuticals to determine if the drugmaker violated state or federal laws in its sale, marketing or prescribing of Nuedexta. The city attorney's office will also investigate select physicians hired and paid by the drugmaker, CNN reports.

7. Avanir Pharmaceuticals said in a statement on its website, "Our medical department has in place a robust physician-verification system, which we continually work to refine, to determine if a physician has been disbarred, accurately represented his or her qualifications, and continues to maintain his or her fitness for practice."

"We also rely on the judgments of medical boards, who have responsibility for determining whether a physician is fit to practice and may maintain a medical license. We stand proudly by our work and are dedicated to the patients we serve," the statement continued.

To read the full CNN report, click here.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 to include additional comments from Avanir Pharmaceuticals.

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