Abbott, AbbVie Win Dismissal of Suit Over Depakote Marketing

Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie Inc. won final dismissal of a lawsuit by union health benefit funds claiming the epilepsy drug Depakote was marketed for unapproved uses, compelling them to pay for prescriptions to treat conditions for which there was no proof the drug was effective.

U.S. District Judge Sara Lee Ellis in Chicago threw out five state law claims yesterday and reiterated her May 12 rejection of the funds’ federal racketeering allegations. All of those claims were made too late to be actionable, she said.

The funds’ right to sue accrued with their first prescription payment in 1998, Ellis concluded, making the case filed in 2013 untimely.

She rejected the argument that Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott prevented earlier discovery of its off-label marketing efforts, concluding the company’s intent was to “evade detection” by the Food and Drug Administration, not the plaintiffs.

In 2012, Abbott agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle state and federal allegations it wrongly promoted Depakote to treat behavioral disturbances in dementia patients, schizophrenia and other psychiatric issues, according to the court’s ruling.

Abbott spun off North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie, and with it the manufacture of Depakote, last year.

Adam Levitt, a lawyer for the union funds in the Chicago office of Grant & Eisenhofer PA, said the dismissal is being appealed. He declined to comment further.

The case is Sidney Hillman Health Center of Rochester v. Abbott Laboratories, 13-cv-05865, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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