Bristol-Myers Squibb Agrees To Pay $19.5M Over Improper Marketing Of Medication

Image courtesy of KogeLiz

Prescription medication, when used properly and safely, can provide needed relief to consumers suffering a wide range of illnesses or physical conditions. However, those medications must be marketed and advertised properly. That apparently wasn’t the case for a antipsychotic prescription drug manufactured Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). As a result, the company has agreed to pay $19.5 million in a settlement with 42 states and the District of Columbia. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the settlement Thursday resolving allegations that Bristol-Myers Squibb improperly marketed and promoted the drug Abilify.

Abilify — the brand name for the prescription drug aripiprazole – is a second-generation antipsychotic prescription drug, commonly, commonly referred to as “atypical antipsychotics,” that were originally used to treat schizophrenia.

According to the states’ complaint, which was also filed today, BMS engaged in off-label marketing, which is the promotion of drugs for uses that are not FDA-approved.

For example, the complaint claims that BMS improperly promoted Abilify for pediatric use and for use in elderly patients with symptoms consistent with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

This, despite the fact that in 2006, Abilify received a “black box” warning stating that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis who are treated with antipsychotic drugs have an increased risk of death.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that BMS violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting and minimizing the risks of the drug including metabolic and weight gain side effects and by misrepresenting the findings of scientific studies.

Under the proposed agreement, BMS is prohibited from promoting Abilify from off-label uses; making false or misleading claims about the drug; compensating health care providers for attended promotional activities; using grant funds to promote Abilify; and providing samples of the medication to health care providers who do not intend to use it for labeled purposes.

In all, the states participating in the agreement are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.