Porzio Life Sciences Enforcement Action Update: Company Stockholder Files Suit Against AbbVie Executives Alleging Illegal Kickbacks

June 07, 2022

By Porzio Life Sciences

An AbbVie Inc. investor has filed a lawsuit against the company for illegally marketing its drug Humira, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. The investor plaintiff Lynne Ranney says the company's executives prioritized "profit over compliance and market dominance over safety." According to the complaint, AbbVie allegedly offered kickbacks to physicians and marketed the drug through a misleading "nurse ambassador" program.

Additional allegations against AbbVie include misleading statements issued by the company's board of directors and failure to employ adequate oversight controls to guarantee that the company was complying with all applicable laws and regulations. In the complaint, Ranney cites multiple other suits against AbbVie that involve alleged kickback schemes, including one in California.

In 2018, California launched an investigation when a former nurse ambassador filed a whistleblower action against the company alleging false health insurance claims, illegal kickbacks, and a misrepresented nurse ambassador program. The suit alleged violations of the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act involving the marketing of Humira, and resulted in a $24 million settlement. As part of the settlement, AbbVie agreed to the reorganization of its marketing practices relating to Humira, along with various new policies, guidance, and training programs with regard to nurse ambassadors, including "specific language in Humira Complete enrollment forms disclosing that Ambassadors are provided by AbbVie."

The current suit seeks unspecified damages along with the improvement of AbbVie's corporate governance and internal procedures.

For more information, please see the Government Prosecutions section of the Enforcement Action Database.

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