by Anthony Chicotel, CANHR Staff Attorney
In what has become a disturbingly recurrent pattern, Abbott Labs has agreed to pay $1.6 billion settlement to the federal government and several states for illegally marketing a psychotropic drug as a treatment for dementia (among other things). Abbott’s anti-seizure drug Depakote has no FDA approval as a treatment for dementia nor is there any evidence that it is safe or effective for dementia. In fact, the one clinical trial that Abbott attempted had to stop due to “increased incidence of adverse events.” Nevertheless, Abbott “trained its sales force to promote Depakote to . . . nursing homes,” targeting dementia patients.
As part of the settlement, Abbott pled guilty to misdemeanor misbranding, although it does not appear that any of its executives are going to jail. About $59 million of the settlement is going to California.
While the settlement was widely reported, not many stories mention why Depakote was so eagerly welcomed by nursing home doctors and staff: it comes in a “sprinkle” form that is easy to place surreptitiously in a resident’s food.
The day the settlement was announced, Abbott’s stock price rose ten cents to close at $62.51 per share.