Whistleblower tags Amgen with marketing suit

It's the off-label marketing charge du jour: A whistleblower charges that Amgen engaged in illegal activities to sell its top-selling drugs Enbrel and Aranesp. The suit--filed in 2007 but only now unsealed--also names Wyeth, which co-markets Enbrel, and several other non-drugmaker defendants.

The U.S. Justice Department has yet to join the suit, so it lacks the added stamp of government backing. An Amgen spokesman told Dow Jones the company "believes the allegations ... are without merit."

According to the claim, Amgen marketed both Aranesp and Enbrel for uses not approved by the FDA. Plus, the suit claims, Amgen offered improper discounts on Aranesp, and it pushed the anemia drug partly by persuading customers that they could profit more from prescribing the Amgen med than they could on competing drugs. The discounts, moreover, were concealed from government health programs so that the company wouldn't have to offer them to government payers, the suit claims.

- read the Dow Jones story
- see the article in the Los Angeles Business Journal