Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

May 17 2010

Producer of cystic fibrosis drug settles lawsuit over “off label marketing”

OLYMPIA – The state’s recession-battered general fund will receive a $261,844 deposit thanks to the latest settlement with a drug manufacturer.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna says the state will receive a total of more than $1 million as part of a $72.5 million nationwide settlement with the manufacturer of tobramycin, a drug to treat cystic fibrosis. Half of the proceeds will be split between the general fund and the state’s Medicaid program. The other half will cover the federal government’s contribution to the health care program for the poor and disabled.

“This settlement shows that once again, our Medicaid Fraud Unit leaves no stone unturned in its quest to protect the quality and cost-efficiency of public health programs,” McKenna said. “Every year, our team finds millions in waste, fraud and abuse – and makes sure the state receives refunds.”

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc. were accused of improperly marketing tobramycin, sold under the trade name TOBI, for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The practice of promoting drugs for unapproved treatments is called “off-label marketing.”

Under the settlement involving 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government, the amount paid to each state was based, in large part, on the Medicaid Program utilization rates for Novartis.


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725