Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Announces Novartis To Pay State $151,000 For Alleged Illegal Drug Marketing

May 5, 2010

            Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today announced that Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will pay the state $151,337 to settle allegations they illegally marketed a drug for non-approved uses.

            The payment is part of a nationwide settlement under which Novartis agreed to pay a total of $72.5 million to the federal government and states.

            Novartis allegedly promoted the drug TOBI, an inhaled antibiotic to treat cystic fibrosis, for uses unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Doctors may prescribe drugs for unapproved uses, but pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from marketing them for such treatments.

            Federal and state authorities alleged that Novartis illegally promoted TOBI for treatment of diseases other than cystic fibrosis and for cystic fibrosis patients who fail to meet FDA approval criteria.

            “This settlement returns $151,337 to state medical programs allegedly defrauded by Novartis,” Blumenthal said. “The company received improper state payments by illegally marketing TOBI for uses unapproved by the FDA. The ruse diverted precious public dollars from proven treatments to Novartis’ bottom line.

“Novartis put profits before patients by promoting uses whose safety, effectiveness and risks are not fully known. I will continue fighting illegal off label marketing, which potentially endangers patients to enrich drug companies.”

The funds will go into the state’s Medicaid program.