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Vermont To Receive $196,000 From Settlement Of Claims Against Novartis For Off-Label Marketing And Kickback Violations

CONTACT: Edward A. Baker, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5511

October 4, 2010

Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that Vermont will receive approximately $196,000 as part of a $422.5 million settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation ("Novartis"), that involved all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. The agreement with Novartis resolves allegations that the company paid kickbacks to psychiatrists and other health care professionals, in the form of payments for speaker programs, advisory boards, entertainment, and gifts, to induce them to promote and prescribe six different drugs: Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge, and Tekturna. These drugs are used to treat a variety of conditions, including hypertension (Diovan, Exforge, and Tekturna), epilepsy (Trileptal), irritable bowel syndrome (Zelnorm), and diarrhea from cancer treatments (Sandostatin). In addition, the agreement resolves allegations that Novartis promoted Trileptal for uses not approved by the Food & Drug Administration, such as the treatment of bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain. As a result of this settlement, Novartis will pay damages equal to three times the amount that Vermont and other states expended for Trileptal prescriptions, and double the amount spent on the other drugs. Novartis also pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act for the off-label promotion of Trileptal, and entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the federal government to closely monitor the company's future marketing and sales practices.

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