Drug company fined $185M for mis-marketing meds

    The U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia continues on a string of lucrative investigations into pharmaceutical marketing.

    Drugmaker Novartis will plead guilty to a misdemeanor for promoting an epilepsy drug for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    The company, whose U.S. headquarters are in New Jersey, will pay a $185 million penalty. That amount pales in comparison to the billions in civil and criminal fines the U.S. Attorney triggered in 2009 with investigations into Pfizer’s and Eli Lilly’s drug promotion practices.

    Doctors can prescribe medications for so-called “off label” uses, but drug companies are forbidden from encouraging non-approved applications. Investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia are also examining potential marketing mis-steps regarding five other Novartis medications.

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