Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Announces $600,000 Lupron® Settlement

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, May 17, 2006  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

Attorney General Greg Stumbo announced today that Kentucky has received a $600,000 settlement with Pharmaceutical manufacturers through fraudulent marketing practices which included bribing doctors to prescribe the high-priced cancer drug, Lupron ®.  The settlement is part of a federal class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturer TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. (“TAP”).

The Attorney General’s Office previously recovered an additional $503,256.36 from TAP on behalf of the Kentucky Medicaid Program.  Both settlements arise out of illegal and improper marketing and sales practices on the part of TAP to induce doctors to prescribe the cancer drug Lupron®.

TAP is a joint venture formed by America pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories, Inc. and Japan’s largest drug company Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. to manufacture and market Lupron in the United States.  In order to induce doctors to prescribe Lupron, TAP deliberately and falsely overstated the average wholesale price of Lupron and provided free samples of Lupron to doctors with instructions to them regarding how to falsely bill Medicaid, Medicare and other third-party payers for the free samples.

TAP also sent doctors on lavish trips and junkets and paid them under-the-table discounts, rebates and bribes thinly disguised as “educational grants” that the doctors could use for anything they wanted.  As a result of these activities, TAP and a number of corporate executives were indicted on criminal charges.  TAP ultimately pleaded guilty and paid over $875 million in criminal fines and civil penalties.

“The first settlement reimbursed the Kentucky Medicaid Program for the inflated prices it was forced to pay by TAP’s deception,” Stumbo said.  “This settlement is somewhat unique in that funds we received today will go towards helping Kentucky cancer victims through treatment and also promote cancer screening and cancer research.”

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Kentucky ranks fourth among the states in cancer death rates.
  • In 2002, approximately 21,100 Kentuckians were diagnosed with cancer and 9,100 were estimated to die of the disease.
  • In Kentucky, the average death rate for lung cancer per 100,000 persons is 78.1 (No. 1 in the nation), compared to 57.7 nationwide.
  • The average death rate for colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 persons is 24 in Kentucky, compared to 21.7 nationwide.
  • The average death rate for breast cancer per 100,000 persons is 28.1 in Kentucky, compared to 28.8 nationwide.
  • The average death rate for prostate cancer deaths per 100,000 persons is 35.2 in Kentucky, compared to 33.9 nationwide.

The terms of the settlement require that the funds be used to benefit Kentuckians who suffer from prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and precocious puberty or Kentucky consumers who purchased Lupron.

“This settlement should help reduce the inequity of the burden on Kentucky's poor and uninsured cancer victims and will support additional research into the cause, detection, and treatment of cancer,” Stumbo said.