Depakote Payouts Hit Big Pharma’s Big Pockets

Abbott Labs’ Depakote settlement resulted in $1.3 million payouts to two Virginia counties, part of a massive earlier settlement of more than $1.5 billion.

The Depakote Medicaid fraud settlement was valued at $2.6 million for the two Virginia counties, split between Smyth and Tazewell at $1.3 million each.

Some of the Depakote allegations included potentially unsafe off-label uses said in court to have been promoted over the course of years by the drugmaker. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph explains:

“The money comes from the $1.5 billion Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay to settle allegations that it promoted the drug Depakote for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation shared $200 million in forfeited funds.”

According to TriCities, Depakote (also known as sodium valproate generically) was promoted for use to treat dementia in elderly patients as well as schizophrenia, neither of which are approved FDA uses for the drug. The site says:

“Court documents showed the company’s sales force was trained for ten consecutive years to market the drugs for those uses as effective treatment, neither of which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration… U.S. Attorney Brian Heaphy said the Abbott settlement was the largest single-drug settlement of an off-label pharmaceutical fraud case in Department history.”

The two Virginia counties’ prosecutors served as special assistant U.S. attorneys in the Depakote case. The monies received from Abbott over the Depakote ruling will be used for law enforcement.

The Depakote case was one of several that have prompted new calls for oversight in pharmaceutical marketing.

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