Md. to get $1.8 million in Abbott settlement over drug marketing

Maryland is slated to receive $1.8 million for its part in a national settlement with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories over allegations of illegal drug marketing, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Monday.

Abbott will pay $100 million to 44 states and Washington, where officials had claimed the company marketed Depakote for uses other than those approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It's considered safe and effective for treating seizure disorders, mania associated with bipolar disorder and migraines. But Abbott was accused of marketing the drug for schizophrenia, agitated dementia and autism.

Gansler's office said the settlement is considered the largest multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement ever reached. And Abbott has agreed to stop making false or misleading claims about Depakote and promoting unapproved uses. Also, its scientists, not sales staff, will develop medical content for doctors, limit distribution of studies relating to unapproved uses and take other steps.

"This office will continue to scrutinize and respond to inappropriate and illegal claims made by pharmaceutical companies," Gansler said in a statement. "Maryland consumers deserve to know the truth about the prescription drugs they're taking."

In a statement, Abbott said it cooperated fully with the investigation.

"We are pleased to resolve this matter and are confident we have the programs in place to satisfy the requirements of this settlement," said Laura J. Schumacher, executive vice president and general counsel, in a statement. "The company takes its responsibility to patients and health care providers seriously and has established robust compliance programs to ensure its marketing programs meet the needs of health care providers and legal requirements."

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