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Astellas Pharma Accused of Ilegally Marketing Mycamine

Filed July 27th, 2012 Laurie

A former sales manager from Astellas Pharma U.S. Inc. has sued the company, alleging she was fired partly in retaliation for reporting the illegal sales efforts of former executives. The plaintiff accuses Astellas of improperly marketing drugs for infections and funguses.

The company – a subsidiary of the Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma – urged its sales reps to sell a fungal infection medication called Mycamine to children’s hospitals, even though it hasn’t been approved for pediatric care. They also marketed a drug known as Vibativ for hospital-acquired pneumonia, despite it only being approved by the FDA for skin staph infections.

Ms. Higgins states in her complaint that her supervisor distributed training materials referring to pediatric studies of Mycamine which directed employees to share the information with doctors. The supervisor also allegedly distributed marketing materials for Vibativ that criticized a competitor’s drug because it couldn’t treat hospital-acquired pneumonia.

When Higgin’s supervisor was asked by a sales rep if she wanted to sell the drugs for off-label purposes, she reportedly answered, “Well, they are getting sales, aren’t they?”
Higgins claims she was told she was being fired in July 2011 for her “poor leadership.” She is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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