The drug company Amgen Incorporated is paying the State of Iowa $972,000 in a settlement over the way it marketed two of its medications. Iowa Attorney General spokesman, Geoff Greenwood, says one of the issue was in the marketing of Aranesp.
“What we allege with Aranesp is that Amgen promoted it for things that the FDA didn’t approve,” Greenwood says. “Things like using it for longer periods than the FDA approved and using it for cancer treatment — anemia associated with cancer — when the FDA said you can’t do it for that.” Greenwood says the FDA sets the guidelines for the drugs and promoting “off label” or unapproved uses is unlawful.
He says the same thing was happening with Enbrel. “With Enbrel…we allege Amgen promoted its use for mild plaque psoriasis, when the FDA only approved it for severe plaque psoriasis. So, we alleged that the company was marketing these drugs, was selling these drugs for uses the FDA did not approve,” Greenwood says. Greenwood says the company was profiting by misleading people.
“We don’t think Iowans should have to worry about whether they are getting the straight story about a prescription drug. Whether they’re taking the drug for the right condition, or whether the drug could put them at risk for something the FDA didn’t approve,” Greenwood says.
Iowa is part of the agreement with 48 states and the District of Columbia. “We think this settlement holds Amgen accountable for deceptive marketing here in Iowa and it sends a message that we are going to take action against any drug company that puts sales ahead of safety. And when it comes to people’s health that’s really important,” Greenwood says, “drug companies should be promoting their own drugs for approved uses only and not for off-label uses.”
Iowa’s $972,000 from the 72 million dollar agreement will go to the state’s consumer education and litigation fund.