$71 Million Consumer Settlement Reached With Amgen Concerning Deceptive Prescription Drug Marketing

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Attorneys General in 48 other states have reached a $71 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. The settlement resolves allegations that Amgen harmed consumers by unlawfully promoting medications Aranesp and Enbrel exposing consumers to high costs and to serious adverse events.

“Deceptive marketing practices will not be tolerated," said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “This settlement protects Arizona consumers and will help ensure that deceptive advertising plays no part in future consumer prescription drug choices.”

Arizona will receive $2.2 million as a result of the national settlement. Arizona, Texas, Illinois, and Oregon led the investigation against Amgen. The Complaint filed today alleges that Amgen marketed Ananesp and Embrel drugs deceptively, including representing that the drugs were more effective, or effective in a broader range of conditions, than they actually were. Aranesp is used to treat certain types of anemia by stimulating bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Enbrel is used to treat a number of conditions, including moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

The complaint alleges Amgen violated state consumer protection laws by:

  • Promoting Aranesp for dosing frequencies longer than the FDA approved label without competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the extended dosing frequencies.
  • Promoting Aranesp for anemia caused by cancer without having FDA approval or competent and reliable scientific evidence to support it.
  • Promoting Enbrel for mild plaque psoriasis even though Enbrel is only approved by the FDA to treat chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

The Consent Judgment, also filed today, requires Amgen to reform its marketing and promotional practices. Under the terms of the Consent Judgment Amgen shall not:

  • Represent that Enbrel or Aranesp has any sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities that it does not have; 
  • Represent that Enbrel or Aranesp is more effective, useful in a broader range of conditions or patients, or safer than is shown by competent and reliable scientific evidence; or
  • Use a compendium publication (a drug compendium is typically a non-profit reference book listing drug strengths, quality, and ingredients) to promote Enbrel or Aranesp for an Off-Label use to a Health Care Professional.

Arizona Assistant Attorney General Stephen Emedi of Tucson handled this case.