Celgene Corp. pays $280 million to end whistleblower case for illegal marketing of Thalomid and Revlimid

Celgene Corporation will pay $280 million to settle a whistleblower case which claims the pharma maker used illegal marketing practices to sell its cancer drugs Thalomid and Revlimid. The whistleblower who filed the case, Beverly Brown, a saleswoman who worked at Celgene for a decade, asserted hat the company paid doctors and hired ghostwriters to Œ recommend uses for Thalomid which went far beyond the product’s approval, including treating blood cancer. She is represented by Reuben Guttman Esq. This was years before it was authorized by regulators. Brown said the company used the same schemes to promote Thalomid’s successor, Revlimid.

As part of the settlement, Brown may recover $84 million, or 30 percent of the recovery, under federal false-claims laws. Thalomid, Revlimid, and Celgene’s successor drug, Pomalyst, accounted earned $8.4 billion, or about 75 percent, of Celgene’s revenue last year.

While doctors have broad latitude in prescribing drugs, even for uses that aren’t approved, drugmakers are barred from enticing physicians to use medicines for illnesses not sanctioned by regulators. According to the Complaint, Celgene initially got U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 1998 for Thalomid to be used on leprosy patients. However, the company hired more than 100 salespeople to hype the drug to cancer doctors, according to Brown.

The case is U.S. ex rel. Brown v. Celgene Corp., case number, 10-cv-3165, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.