Amgen Inc., manufacturer of the off brand anemia drug, Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa), has agreed to pay $150 million in criminal fines and penalties and $612 million in civil settlements, following a suit alleging the company gave kickbacks and incentives to doctors who recommended use of their drug (December 18).
The company, in an attempt to compete with Johnson & Johnson's Procrit, claimed the drug needed to be used just once a month, whereas Procrit required a dose every two weeks. Amgen's sales reps subsequently promoted Aransep as a once monthly solution.
"As part of its strategy to increase sales of Aranesp, Amgen instructed its sales representatives to distribute laminated reprints of the Aranesp compendia listing for the (once monthly) QM dose to healthcare professionals with the intent that the healthcare professionals would use Aranesp for QM dosing," stated a criminal complaint against Amgen.
The FDA had prohibited the drug in such a fashion after citing the insufficiency of Amgen's own trials.
Aranesp, once Amgen's best selling product, had seen diminishing returns since 2007, when studies suggested it increased risk of blood clots and exacerbated cancer.
by RTT Staff Writer
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