Judge scolds Schering for off-label shilling

Schering-Plough may have won an off-label marketing suit, but not without some flogging from the federal judge in charge. Judge Stanley Chesler ruled that by law, the plaintiffs in this case--Teamsters whose benefits program paid for the cancer drugs Temodar and Intron--would have to prove patients got no benefit from the drugs. And they didn't prove it. So the class-action suit is kaput.

But Judge Chesler didn't stop there. He went on to call the company "reprehensible," BNet Pharma reports, and to detail Schering's marketing shenanigans. Among them: Using CME courses directed and controlled by Schering sales reps  to promote off-label uses of the drugs. Targeting doctors who prescribed competing drugs with a "barrage of off-label marketing techniques." Paying docs who did prescribe Temodar and Intron off-label to speak at dinner lectures. Paying docs as "consultants" even when they did little or no work. And so on.

The suit stems from off-label marketing that ended up attracting FDA scrutiny. Schering pled guilty in 2006 to criminal conspiracy charges in connection with that probe. "There is no question that the illegal conduct to which Schering Sales pled guilty represents this corporate Defendant's reprehensible disregard for the vital role the FDA plays in ensuring the safety of consumer pharmaceutical products," the judge wrote. Unfortunately for the Teamsters, that isn't enough to warrant damages.

- read the BNet piece

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