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Articles Posted in Boston Scientific

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We’ve been getting a lot of questions over the past few days about Seroquel. That usually means I need to put up a new post, especially in light of recent events.

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca (the manufacturer of Seroquel) agreed to pay $520 million to settle a federal inquiry into Seroquel marketing practices. As we have stated before, Seroquel is approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, investigators and plaintiffs believe that AstraZeneca marketed the drug for myriad other unapproved uses, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dementia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

whistle.jpgThere are no criminal charges associated with the deal. Giving credence to plaintiffs’ claims (aside from the credibility arising from the mere fact of a whopping large settlement), is that federal investigators got much of their information from AstraZeneca whistleblowers, drug sales rep, James Wetta (who had some involvement in the whistleblowing at Eli Lilly around 2003).

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In a bold move, Judge Donovan Frank rejected a $296 million plea deal, offered by Boston Scientific and prosecutors. The proposed agreement was offered for Guidant’s failure to timely report problems with some of its defibrillators, which have caused at least seven deaths and numerous injuries. Boston Scientific purchased Guidant back in 2006. The federal Minnesota judge considered the arrangement, but ultimately rejected deal (which included a guilty plea by Guidant for two misdemeanors: submitting a false and misleading report to the FDA, and failing to notify the FDA about a device safety correction).

Judge Frank stated that “[a]t a minimum, the public’s interest in accountability would be served by Guidant and Boston Scientific being placed on probation, regardless of the fact that Boston Scientific acquired Guidant after the events in question. And, the court believes that a period of probation would likely benefit, rather than harm, Guidant’s and Boston Scientific’s public image.” The judge indicated that some measure of community service would be appropriate.

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Here are the stories we’re following this week:

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Guidant%20in%20Jail-04-21-10%29.JPGThe New York Times published an article yesterday, “When Heart Devices Fail, Who Should Be Blamed?” The article puts a nice gloss on how and whether a company and people in charge of a company can properly make amends and taking personal/corporate responsibility.

The backstory is of course that a federal judge is considering whether to accept a $296 million fine, and a guilty plea to two criminal misdemeanors by Guidant (now Boston Scientific). Two cardiologists are urging the judge to reject the deal, and instead want prosecution of the company “and the individuals responsible.” The cardiologists, who cared for 21-year old patient who died because his Guidant device did not properly function, further state:

Manufacturers control the quality of their products. Manufacturers are the first to know when a medical device is dangerous or underperforming. Thus, it is in the best interest of patients, and society in general, for manufacturers to be liable for the safety and effectiveness of their products. To allow a repeat offender, like Guidant, to escape with a fine (that is entirely borne by the shareholders of Boston Scientific) does not hold the guilty parties fully accountable and inevitably undermines patient safety.

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Guidant-Timeline-04-07-10.jpgSometimes, personal responsibility is hard to come by. The same can be true of corporate responsibility, which is simply another version of personal responsibility (under the law, corporations are entities capable of suing and being sued, and doing many of the same things that people do).

Exhibit A is Guidant’s plea in federal court on Monday. Guidant (recently acquired by Boston Scientific) pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Specifically, it pleaded guilty to two violations:

  1. making a materially false statement in a required submission to the FDA (Ventak Prizm 2DR)
  2. Failing to notify the FDA of a “correction” made to reduce a health risk caused by defibrillators (Contak Renewal)
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Here are the stories we’re following this week:

  • Fosamax and Statute of Limitations: Recent Fosamax case and application of American Pipe mass tort/class action tolling (HT: Drug and Device Law Blog)
  • Drug Pushers: Are sales reps who promote their companies drugs with direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising “pushers?” (HT: Pharma Marketing Blog)
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Boston%20Scientific%20ICD%202-03-16-10%29.JPGHeart devices and the companies that manufacture them have had a rocky road the past few years (excluding Medtronic’s failed sprint fidelis leads: despite needlessly shocking patients, claims for injuries have been found by a federal trial court to be preempted). These include Guidant, which was subject recall and numerous lawsuits over its defibrillators because of a short-circuiting problem.

Now, Boston Scientific (which acquired Guidant in 2006) has voluntarily recalled all (non-implanted) implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds). An ICD is a device that monitors heart rhythms and delivers life-saving shocks if dangerous rhythms are detected. A CRT-D treats certain types of heart failure by coordinating the pumping of the heart’s ventricles. The units recalled fall under the COGNIS, CONFIENT, LIVIAN, PRZM, RENEWAL, TELIGEN and VITALITY lines.

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