The pharmaceutical company AbbVie, Inc. has reached a settlement agreement with California over allegations that it violated the state’s Insurance Frauds Prevention Act. The settlement, reached Thursday, includes AbbVie’s agreement to alter its marketing practices for the drug HUMIRA, which is used primarily to treat inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, arthritis and Crohn’s Disease. The company also agreed to pay $24 million as part of the settlement despite continuing to deny any wrongdoing.
The California Department of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced the agreement, stating that AbbVie’s marketing practices for the drug “egregiously put profits ahead of transparency inpatient care and violated California law.” Lara stated that the settlement “delivers important reforms to AbbVie’s business practices and a substantial monetary recovery that will be used to continue to combat insurance fraud.”
The Department of Insurance in California began investigating the company after it received a case from a registered nurse employed by AbbVie. The Department intervened in the case with a superseding complaint that alleged AbbVie employed these nurses, also called ambassadors, to “interfere with the flow of doctor-patient communications” without answering questions about the company’s marketing activities, such as providing kickbacks to program speakers.
The settlement’s requirements for AbbVie to change its marketing practices for HUMIRA are only enforceable in the state of California.