Endo to Settle False Health Care Claims for $172M

Posted: 02/25/2014  browse the blog archive
Endo to Settle False Health Care Claims for $172M

Delaware-based Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its subsidiary Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Endo) have agreed to pay $171.9 million to settle allegations that the company improperly marketed the prescription drug Lidoderm for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), resulting in false claims submitted to federal health care programs such as Medicaid, the Department of Justice announced last week.  Endo will pay an additional $20.8 million in penalties and forfeiture of profits, bringing the total payment to $192.7 million.

The government charged that Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. introduced into interstate commerce Lidoderm that was misbranded under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).   The FDCA requires a company, such as Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., to specify the intended uses of a product in its new drug application to the FDA.   Once approved, a drug may not be introduced into interstate commerce for unapproved or “off-label” uses until the company receives FDA approval for the new intended uses.   During the period of 2002 to 2006, Lidoderm was approved by the FDA only for the relief of pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a complication of shingles.   The information alleges that, during the relevant time period, the Lidoderm distributed nationwide by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. was misbranded because its labeling lacked adequate directions for use in the treatment of non-PHN related pain, including lower back pain, diabetic neuropathy and carpal tunnel syndrome.   These uses were intended by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. but never approved by the FDA.   The information further alleges that certain Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. sales managers provided instruction to certain sales representatives concerning how to expand sales conversations with doctors beyond PHN and encouraged promotion of Lidoderm in workers’ compensation clinics.

In a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the charge, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. admitted that it intended that Lidoderm be used for unapproved indications and that it promoted Lidoderm to health care providers for those unapproved indications.   Under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. will pay a total of $20.8 million in monetary penalties and forfeiture.   Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. further agreed to implement and maintain a number of enhanced compliance measures, including making publicly available the results of certain clinical trials and requiring an annual review and certification of its compliance efforts by the Chief Executive Officer of its parent company, Endo Health Solutions. 

In addition, Endo agreed to settle its potential civil liability in connection with its marketing of Lidoderm.   The government alleged that Endo caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs, including Medicaid, a jointly funded federal and state program, by promoting Lidoderm for unapproved uses that were therefore covered by the federal health care programs.   Of the $171.9 million Endo has agreed to pay to resolve these civil claims, Endo will pay $137.7 million to the federal government and $34.2 million to the states and the District of Columbia.  

Also as part of the settlement, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. has agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General that requires Endo to implement measures designed to avoid or promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to this resolution.   Among other things, the CIA requires Endo to implement an internal risk assessment and mitigation program and requires numerous internal and external reviews of promotional and other practices.   The CIA also requires key executives and individual board members to sign certifications about compliance, and it requires the company to publicly report information about its financial arrangements with physicians.

The settlement resolves three lawsuits originally filed by two former Lidoderm sales representatives and one physician under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act.  The False Claims Act allows private parties with knowledge of fraud against the government to sue on behalf of the government and share in the recovery.  The whistleblowers’ share of the settlement has not yet been determined.

The Chanler Group, in association with the Hirst Law Group, represents whistleblowers who take action under the False Claims Act to report fraud committed against the federal and state governments.  We have years of experience representing whistleblower clients who expose every kind of fraud against the government, including health care fraud, contract fraud, and tax fraud.  Read more about our expertise in False Claims Act cases and how you can take action.