Over the past few years, Abbott Laboratories has faced multiple lawsuits concerning Depakote, an anti-seizure medication approved by the FDA in 1983. Now, according to a report from Bloomberg, another lawsuit is directed toward the drug manufacturer – this time from Abbott’s shareholders.
Although initially rejected last year, the lawsuit accuses Abbott’s directors of avoiding their responsibilities regarding the marketing of Depakote. With approval to proceed as of early June, the suit consolidates eight filings against the manufacturer’s board of directors.
About the lawsuit moving forward, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall in Chicago told the press: “The plaintiffs have alleged particularized facts demonstrating that a majority of the relevant board had notice that Abbott was engaging in illegal conduct.”
Abbott’s sales representatives allegedly marketed Depakote for off-label uses – a practice acceptable by physicians but illegal by marketing and sales teams. According to Courthouse News, this involved promoting the anti-epileptic drug in nursing homes and bribing doctors with illegal kickbacks up until 2008.
The FDA confirms this assertion in a recent blog post regarding the Office of Criminal Investigations. Even though the FDA denied Abbott’s application for using Depakote to treat dementia and schizophrenia because the manufacturer could not prove its effectiveness, Abbott went ahead to train its sales team on these use, did not inform their marketing department of the negative results, and, even after two of its own conducted studies failed to show effectiveness, waited two years to inform its representatives.
Investors are now seeking unspecified monetary damages from Abbott’s existing board members and have requested a court order to reform and improve the manufacturer’s practices.
While the manufacturer reached a settlement earlier with the Department of Justice regarding its marketing practices, a consolidated personal injury lawsuit, consisting of cases from November 2010 to November 2011, is currently in court. Trantolo & Trantolo, as well, is representing those who experienced the alleged negative effects of Depakote or Abbott’s illegal marketing practices.