A Virginia federal court hit Abbott with large fines for promoting Depakote for off-label use. Abbott Laboratories voluntarily pled guilty on the criminal charges. Abbott was ordered to pay $500 million of criminal fines, forfeit $198.5 million, and pay an additional $1.5 million to the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. In the civil lawsuit, Abbott agreed to pay $800 million in damages to the federal government for the claim that their illegal marketing practices led to false claims submitted to government health programs.
Depakote is a drug approved as an anti-seizure medication. Abbott was found guilty of promoting the drug for the off-label use to treat patients with dementia and schizophrenia, neither of which are approved uses by the FDA. Abbott and other pharmaceuticals have had a history of this unlawful practice as we have covered in the recent past.