Boehringer to Pay $95 Million to Resolve Drug Promotion Case

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. will pay $95 million to settle government claims it improperly promoted four drugs, the U.S. Justice Department said.

The accord ends a federal False Claims Act lawsuit in Maryland filed by Robert Heiden, a former company sales representative, the government said today in a statement. Heiden will get $17 million for his role as whistle-blower.

Boehringer promoted drugs for uses that weren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and weren’t covered by federal health-care programs, prosecutors said. Three of the drugs were Aggrenox, used in the prevention of strokes; Micardis, the blood-pressure medication; and Combivent, used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The company also was accused of promoting the use of Combivent and another pulmonary disease drug, Atrovent, at doses exceeding those covered by federal health care programs and of paying kickbacks to induce medical professionals to prescribe all four of them.

“The company has been cooperating with the government since its investigation began,” Kate O’Connor, a spokeswoman, said by e-mail, adding that the company wanted to avoid the time and expense of litigation. “The settlement is civil only and is not an admission of liability by the company.”

The company is a unit of Ingelheim, Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.

More than $78.4 million in settlement funds will go to the federal government. State Medicaid programs will get $16.5 million, according to the U.S.

New York will received more than $3.1 million, the state said. Ohio will receive almost $1.4 million, according to a statement from state Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“The accurate marketing of medications is essential for their safe and beneficial use by those in need,” DeWine said. “It’s also vital when it comes to paying for those medications. Anything else is unfair to patients and taxpayers, and illegal.”

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