Washington - Abbott Laboratories has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion over allegations that it promoted the anti-seizure drug Depakote for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The case includes a criminal fine and forfeiture of $700 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $800 million. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Monday the settlement reflects the determination by government "to hold accountable those who commit fraud."
At a news conference at the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy said that the top levels of Abbott carried out a strategy of systematically marketing the drug for purposes other than what federal regulators had allowed.
The illegal conduct was not the product of "some rogue sales representatives," said Heaphy, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia. He said the company engaged in the strategy from 1998 to at least 2006.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced the state portion of the settlement between the company and 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Depakote is an anti-seizure and mood-stabilizing drug prescribed for bipolar disorder.
However, the company admitted that it marketed the drug for unapproved uses, including treatment of schizophrenia, agitated dementia and autism.