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State reaches $1.7 million settlement with Novartis

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Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office reached a settlement Tuesday with Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics Inc. over allegations that the company promoted a drug for off-label uses.

According to a news release from Koster's office, Novartis allegedly promoted the use of tobramycin, a cystic fibrosis drug marketed under the trade name Tobi, for uses not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. From January 2001 through July 2006, Tobi was marketed for off-label indications, including diseases other than cystic fibrosis and for use in CF patients younger than 6 years old, according to the release. State Medicaid programs paid for the drug even though Novartis could not prove the effectiveness of the drug for those uses.

Missouri will receive $1.7 million as part of the $72.5 million settlement, which included 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government. The settlement also resolves claims brought by three former employees of Chiron Corp., which manufactured and marketed Tobi before it was acquired by Novartis in 2006, according to the release.

The damages are twice the amount the states spent for prescriptions written as a result of the off-label marketing, the release said.

“Novartis operated outside the law to profit at the expense of Missouri taxpayers and those who need the state’s Medicaid services,” Koster said in the release. “This settlement will give other companies pause before using such methods.”[[In-content Ad]]

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