Abbott in talks to resolve Depakote marketing suits

Another off-label marketing settlement may be on its way. Abbott Laboratories is "engaged in active settlement discussions" with the Justice Department in a lawsuit claiming that the company mismarketed its drug Depakote, Bloomberg reports, citing court documents.

Apparently, government lawyers have asked the judge in the case for a temporary halt until July 8 to allow settlement talks to continue. They also have asked for consolidation of four related false-claims cases into the marketing suit. "The short extension would allow the parties to determine if a negotiated resolution is possible," the court filing states (as quoted by Bloomberg). "Consolidating the actions would avoid having nearly identical filings made in four different actions."

The whistleblower suits claim that Abbott promoted off-label uses for Depakote, including treatment of aggression in patients with dementia and autism, focusing on long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and similar institutions. The drug is approved for use against seizure disorders, bipolar mania and migraines.

A virtual who's who of Big Pharma has settled off-label marketing claims. Pfizer's $2.3 billion deal to resolve marketing claims related to its Bextra pain reliever and other drugs, along with Eli Lilly's $1.4 billion settlement of Zyprexa marketing allegations, lead the pack. And Abbott isn't the only company negotiating a new settlement deal: Johnson & Johnson is reportedly in talks to resolve allegations that it mismarketed its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

- read the Bloomberg news