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Boehringer settles multistate probe into deceptive marketing for $13.5M

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to pay $13.5 million to resolve claims by U.S. state attorneys general that it engaged in deceptive and misleading marketing to promote the use of four of its drugs.

The settlement, joined by 50 states and the District of Columbia, requires the company to reform its advertising practices.

Boehringer allegedly misrepresented that its antiplatelet drug Aggrenox was effective for treating "below the neck" conditions including heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and was superior to Plavix without evidence to substantiate that claim. The attorneys general claim the company misrepresented that its hypertension drug Micardis protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks, and treated metabolic syndrome.

The drugmaker also allegedly misrepresented that its drugs Atrovent and Combivent could be used at higher dosages than their product labels recommended, and that Combivent could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Under the settlement, Boehringer is required to ensure, among other things, that its marketing and advertising practices do not unlawfully promote these prescription drug products and clinically relevant information is provided in an unbiased manner.

Boehringer said the alleged conduct ended in 2008, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. It did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.