Grant & Eisenhofer Represents Whistleblower Accusing Celgene Corp. Of Off-Label Marketing Of High-Risk Cancer Drugs Derived From Thalidomide
Unsealed federal lawsuit alleges that pharmaceutical giant engaged in unlawful marketing schemes involving blockbuster drugs Thalomid and Revlimid in cancer treatment, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars; charges of kickbacks to physicians in pushing for unapproved treatments
LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading whistleblower law firm Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. represents a key whistleblower in a false claims lawsuit unsealed today against one of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies, Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) involving charges of off-label marketing of two of its cancer treatment drugs. The federal suit alleges that Celgene marketed its drugs Thalomid and Revlimid to cancer patients and their doctors for unapproved purposes, and paid kickbacks to physicians for prescribing the medications. Thalomid is a form of thalidomide, a drug notorious for causing severe birth defects in the 1960s, making the term "thalidomide baby" a shorthand for a generation of birth abnormalities; its usage led Congress to strengthen FDA oversight of pharmaceuticals. The suit alleges that Celgene engaged in unlawful marketing schemes of both Thalomid and Revlimid, costing the U.S. government and state healthcare payors hundreds of millions of dollars. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the suit, U.S. ex rel. Beverly Brown v. Celgene Corp., was originally filed under seal in 2007. The lawsuit was brought under both federal and state false claims acts, as well as the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act, which mandate initial filing under seal. Grant & Eisenhofer is representing Beverly Brown, a former top-performing sales representative at Celgene who worked heavily on marketing both Thalomid and Revlimid during her decade-long stint at the company (2001-11). Ms. Brown's complaint alleges that Celgene preyed on a vulnerable patient population by aggressively marketing highly toxic drugs –Thalomid, and later Revlimid – for high-risk cancer treatments that had not been approved by the FDA. According to the suit, Celgene knowingly concealed the risks of venous thromboembolism and deaths associated with Thalomid use in cancer patients. The suit contends that when Celgene ultimately secured an indication for treatment of multiple myeloma with Thalomid, the approval was conditioned on a black-box warning on the drug's packaging, alerting doctors and patients of the significant risks of venous thromboembolism and fatality.