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Genentech Settles Rituxan Lawsuit for $20 Million

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A whistleblower lawsuit filed by John Underwood in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in July 2003, against Genentech Inc., while Underwood was a senior hospital systems specialist for Genentech, has been settled for $20 million.

The whistleblower lawsuit said that from 2000 to 2002, Genentech “encouraged oncologists and other physicians and medical providers to bill Medicare and other government reimbursement program for Rituxan for ‘off-label’ uses,” and to explain that the use was the result of an independent medical judgment, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

Rituxan was approved by the FDA in 1997 for patients with relapsed or refractory, low grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2001, The FDA expanded its approval to include other non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatments. The lawsuit claims Genentech promoted Rituxan for other types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients, and as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and rheumatoid arthritis as well as for other conditions.

The lawsuit also claimed that Genentech, a US subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Roche, paid kickbacks to physicians that they disguised as consulting payment, “exerted significant pressure” on sales representatives to promote Rituxan off label uses, and conducted “selling skills workshops” devoted to teach sales reps about the drugs off-label uses. The lawsuit also said Genentech invited doctors to “medical education seminars” at “luxurious locations” and gave financial incentives to sales reps to get the highest selling Rituxan physicians to attend the seminars.

While Genentech did not admit to wrongdoing, they will pay $20 million in the settlement, $5.7 million of which will go to Underwood. The company will also pay attorney’s fees and expenses for Underwood. disclaimer: This article: Genentech Settles Rituxan Lawsuit for $20 Million was posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 at 8:25 pm at and is filed under Defective Drug Lawsuits.

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