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10 Biggest Pharmaceutical Settlements

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2022 | Pharmaceutical Liability

As consumers, we trust that the pharmaceuticals we take are safe and effective. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Throughout the course of history, many large pharmaceutical companies have reached substantial settlements with individuals and their families after some pharmaceuticals were found to have harmful and unforeseen side effects. Here, the pharmaceutical liability attorneys with Peter Angelos Law provide a recap of the 10 biggest pharmaceutical settlements:

10. Amgen—$762 Million

In 2012, Amgen reached a $762 million settlement to resolve litigation accusing the drugmaker of marketing their anemia treatment, Aranesp, for unapproved uses. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug to be administered once a week or once every two or three weeks, depending on the patient. However, prosecutors accused Amgen of promoting a once-a-month dose to help Aranesp compete with Johnson & Johnson’s Procit, which was well-established in the market at the time.

9. Bayer and Johnson & Johnson—$775 Million

The 2019 class-action settlement of roughly 25,000 lawsuits was reached after patients using the well-known blood thinner Xarelto claimed that they were not warned about the side effects of the drug. Users claimed they suffered from internal bleeding, wound leakage, and infections after taking the medication.

8. TAP Pharmaceutical—$875 Million

The pharmaceutical manufacturer agreed to pay $875 million to settle criminal and civil charges in 2001 involving inflated prices for their prostate cancer drug, Lupron. The charges against the manufacturer included fraudulent drug pricing and misconduct in marketing the drug as well as bribes and kickbacks to doctors who chose to use Lupron over the lower-priced competitive market.

7. Merck—$950 Million

In 2011, the company agreed to pay a $950M settlement and pled guilty to a criminal charge over the marketing and sale of the painkiller Vioxx. Vioxx had been approved by the FDA in 1999 and remained on the market until 2004. By the time it had been proven that the drug posed a substantial heart attack risk, nearly 25 million Americans had taken it. Merck pled guilty to illegally introducing a drug into interstate commerce as a result of the company promoting Vioxx to treat rheumatoid arthritis before the FDA had approved it for that purpose. Claims against Merck also included that the company utilized illegal marketing tactics that caused doctors to prescribe the medication to Medicaid patients that they otherwise would not have prescribed.

6. Eli Lilly and Company—$1.4 Billion

The manufacturer agreed to pay $1.4 billion in settlements for the marketing of its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa for off-label uses. The drug was licensed for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, from September 1999 to November 2003, the company promoted the drug to treat more common disorders such as dementia, agitation, aggression, and sleep problems. The promotion was mostly seen in doctors treating nursing home and other long-term care patients because one of the drug’s side effects was sedation.

5. Abbott Laboratories—$1.6 Billion

In 2012, Abbott Laboratories reached an agreement to pay nearly $1.6 billion to settle an investigation into their seizure drug Depakote. The allegations surrounding the settlement included misbranding. Abbott admitted to maintaining a specialized sales force trained to market the drug in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the lack of credible evidence that the drug was safe and effective for that use. In addition, the company marketed Depakote in combination with atypical antipsychotics to treat schizophrenia, despite clinical trials failing to demonstrate that adding Depakote made the atypical antipsychotic more effective.

4. Johnson & Johnson—$2.2 Billion

The 2013 settlement was reached to resolve criminal and civil liability that arose from allegations related to the drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor, including promotion for uses not approved by the FDA. The manufacturer also faced allegations of offering kickbacks to physicians and to one of the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy providers.

3. Pfizer—$2.3 Billion

In 2009, major drug manufacturer Pfizer paid a $2.3 billion settlement over unlawful prescription drug promotions regarding its pain medication, Bextra. Allegations claimed that Pfizer’s sales teams created phony doctor requests for medical information in order to send unsolicited information to doctors about unapproved uses and dosages. In addition, Pfizer allegedly offered kickbacks and other benefits to doctors to entice them to prescribe its drugs.

2. Takeda Pharmaceutical—$2.4 Billion

Takeda Pharmaceuticals reached an agreement in 2015 to settle hundreds of lawsuits in the United States that alleged that the diabetes drug Actos increased the risk of certain cancers. The drug was licensed to help patients with type II diabetes reduce their sugar levels and was on the market for more than 15 years. However, in 2011, the FDA placed a Black Box safety warning on the drug, indicating that it can increase the risk of bladder cancer. Shortly after, thousands of lawsuits were filed against Takeda after studies came to light showing a link between taking the drug and cancer diagnoses.

1. GlaxoSmithKline—$3 Billion

In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline paid the largest healthcare fraud settlement in United States history—a total of $3 billion. The settlement was reached after the manufacturer pleaded guilty to promoting two drugs for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a diabetes drug to the FDA. In all, the case concerned 10 drugs, including Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia, and Advair. The manufacturer admitted to promoting antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for unapproved uses, including treatment of children and adolescents.

Consult With an Experienced Pharmaceutical Liability Attorney

All too often, large pharmaceutical companies are found guilty of illegally marketing, selling, or producing pharmaceuticals. These actions can have detrimental impacts on a profound number of individuals taking these medications. If you or someone you love has been affected by a prescription drug that was marketed as being safe, it is imperative that you speak with a pharmaceutical liability attorney. Fill out the form below to get in touch with a member of our team.