Blumenthal: Feds' settlement with drug company not good enough

John O'Brien Nov. 13, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal won't be happy with a settlement between prescription drug maker Cephalon and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Those two reached a $425 million agreement in principle last week, with all the funds going to federal and state Medicaid programs. Cephalon is accused of promoting off-label prescriptions.

"This agreement in principal -- the result of an unprecedented investigative partnership between Connecticut and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia -- will return millions of dollars to the Medicaid program," Blumenthal said.

"If it becomes final, the Cephalon settlement by no means ends Connecticut's intensive ongoing investigation into the company's off-label marketing."

Blumenthal said his concerns go past reimbursing the Medicaid program. The company's cancer-painkiller Fentora was improperly prescribed by doctors, which resulted in three deaths from respiratory failure, the company has said.

"Our investigation has revealed the horrendous consequences of off-label marketing -- patients potentially harmed by the company's reckless conduct in promoting its drugs for unapproved uses," Blumenthal said.

According to a report by The Associated Press, Cephalon posted a net loss of $306.8 million, or $4.58 a share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. In the same quarter last year, it posted a profit of $95.7 million, or $1.43 a share.

"Any resolution of Connecticut's claims must include consumer relief, which we will relentlessly pursue," Blumenthal said.

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