WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.
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 intended.
The misconduct was not the product of "some rogue sales representatives," said Heaphy, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia. The company engaged in the strategy from 1998 to at least 2006, said Heaphy.
The case includes a criminal fine and forfeiture of $700 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $800 million.
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 federal and state governments alleged that Abbott Laboratories marketed the drug for unapproved uses, including treatment of schizophrenia, agitated dementia and autism.
Illinois-based Abbott said the company was pleased to resolve the matter. It said that it takes its responsibility to patients and health care providers seriously. Under the settlement, the company has agreed to enter a five-year probationary period designed to ensure that there is no repeat of the company's illegal conduct.