Allergan Settles With DOJ, Drops Free-Speech Case
In a 3-part criminal and civil agreement with the Department of Justice, Allergan, the maker of Botox, has dropped its free-speech suit against the FDA—which had the potential to be a pivotal case on the rights of commercial free speech. In addition, the company has pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor “misbranding” charge, stemming from the off-label promotion of Botox during 2000-2005, and will pay $375 million. Last Allergan will fork over another $225 million to resolve civil claims made by the DOJ under the False Claims Act (concerning qui tam or whistleblower complaints). The plea agreement was announced yesterday in a company press release and also by the DOJ.
According to the government, Allergan, during the described time period, “exploited” an approved indication for cervical dystonia (obtained in 2000) to expand the off-label use of Botox for headache. Company reps were also instructed to call on doctors who typically treat off-label conditions (like pediatric spasticity), and Allergan held workshops to inform healthcare providers on how to be reimbused for injecting Botox off label.
The civil settlement resolved 3 qui tam lawsuits, with whistleblowers Dr. Amy Lang (a former Allergan consultant), Charles Rushin (a former Botox sales rep), Cher Beilfuss (a former Regional Healthcare Policy Manager for Allergan), Kathleen O’Conner-Masse (a former Payor Reimbursement Account Manager for Allergan), and Edward Hallivis (a former I-don’t-know-what). They will split $37.8 million.
The current, FDA-approved indications for Botox (not Botox Cosmetic) in adults are the following:
- Cervical dystonia
- Primary axillary hyperhidrosis
- Blepharospasm and strabismus
- Upper limb spasticity (approval obtained March 2010)