Second Sun Pharma rep files retaliation suit

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

A former Sun Pharmaceuticals national account director filed a retaliation lawsuit against the drugmaker, claiming she was fired for objecting to off-label marketing.

The lawsuit, filed by Sandra Hagenbrock Nov. 5 in Tampa, Fla., is the second of its kind this year, after another former Sun Pharma salesperson filed a similar suit in July.

Off-label marketing, or promoting drugs for non-FDA approved uses, is often debated in the pharma industry. Drugmakers have urged the FDA to loosen regulations on the practice, arguing the rules violate free speech rights. However, the FDA says the regulations are needed to protect patients.

The lawsuit alleges Mumbai, India-based Sun Pharma, one of the largest generic drugmakers in the world, directed Ms. Hagenbrock to "aggressively solicit opportunities to present off-label information to decision-makers about its drugs."

When Ms. Hagenbrock refused, the president of sales, Janet Sharp, allegedly insulted her weight and age, passed over her for promotions and lowered her bonuses. Ms. Hagenbrock was eventually fired in July 2019.

The lawsuit also claims Sun Pharma may have violated the False Claims Act by filing improper claims with federal health programs.

The retaliation lawsuit comes as the drugmaker faces separate lawsuits claiming it distributed samples of drugs in both Washington state and Alabama without a license. Sun Pharma has also faced dozens of product recalls and quality control problems raised by the FDA in the last few years.

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