Abbott, AbbVie pay $25M to resolve long-standing kickback case

Abbott Laboratories and Abbvie Inc. will pay a total of $25 million to resolve allegations that Abbott paid kickbacks to physicians and employed unlawful marketing tactics to bolster prescriptions of its cholesterol drug TriCor, the Department of Justice said in a news release.  The settlement comes nine years after a whistleblower first alerted feds to the alleged misconduct.

The alleged events took place between 2006 and 2008, when Abbott's pharmaceutical business, known as AbbVie, was still in-house. The companies will split the settlement, which will not require either party to admit wrongdoing.

The whistleblower lawsuit claimed that Abbott provided physicians with gift baskets, gift cards and paid out consulting and speaking fees. In addition, the drugmaker allegedly promoted TriCor for unapproved uses such as preventing cardiovascular complications when it was only approved to treat high cholesterol.

The lawsuit was filed in Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Amy Bergman, a former Abbott sales representative, under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Ms. Bergman will receive $6.5 million as her share of the settlement.

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