La. AG files second suit against GlaxoSmithKline

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Feb 11, 2013

BATON ROUGE (Legal Newsline) -- Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell last week filed a second suit against British health care giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC.

This time, the attorney general is taking aim at the company's illegal promotion of the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin, Advair, Lamictal, Zofran, Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent and Valtrex for off-label, non-covered uses in violation of state laws.

Paxil and Wellbutrin are antidepressants; Advair is used to prevent symptoms of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Lamictal is used to treat certain types of seizures; Zofran is most often used to treat nausea in cancer patients; Imitrex is used to treat migraine headaches; Lotronex treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Flovent is a corticosteroid used to prevent bronchial asthma attacks; and Valtrex treats herpes virus infections.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Baton Rouge, has been assigned to Judge Janice Clark of the state's 19th Judicial District Court.

"GlaxoSmithKline's egregious conduct and greed caused fraudulent claims to be submitted to the Louisiana Medicaid Program," Caldwell said in a statement Wednesday.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said the agency stands committed with Caldwell against the company's "fraudulent practices" and "dangerous promotion" of off-label and non-covered prescription drug use.

"We will continue our fight to protect the safety of Louisiana residents and the integrity of public health care services by working with all of our partners to stamp out fraud and abuse in our state," Greenstein said in a statement.

This is the second suit Caldwell has filed against the drug maker on behalf of Louisiana. The first was filed in February 2011 over its diabetes drug Avandia.

The attorney general claimed GlaxoSmithKline hid harmful side effects of the drug, which is used to help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

In particular, Caldwell's suit accused the company of defrauding the state's Medicaid Program by illegally marketing, pricing and promoting the drug, and violating the state's consumer protection and unfair trade practices laws.

That case is set for trial in June, also before Clark.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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