Maryland, 36 Other States to Share Nearly $42 Million in Synthetic Hormone Case

Company Agrees Not to Make Misleading Claims

July 29, 1999

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today announced that Maryland and 36 other states will receive $41.8 million to settle charges against a synthetic hormone manufacturer that was accused of making misleading claims about the superiority of its product. Knoll Pharmaceutical Company and BASF Corporation, the makers of Synthroid, a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement, have agreed to the terms of the settlement, which includes a $1.02 million payment to Maryland and assurances that any misleading or deceptive claims about its product will cease.

Curran and the other Attorneys General alleged that Knoll violated consumer protection laws by deceptively claiming that Synthroid, a trade name of levothyroxine sodium, was unique or superior to competing brands and that no other competing brand was equivalent to Synthroid. They also alleged that Knoll attempted to prevent the publication of a study which showed that Synthroid was no more effective than some generic levothyroxine sodium products.

"People who need this drug have a right to accurate information," said Attorney General Curran. "It's unfair for one company to promote its product as the ‘best' when in fact it may be no better than competing brands that may cost less."

Over eight million patients in the United States take levothyroxine sodium daily for hypothyroidism, a condition which causes the thyroid gland to stop producing adequate amounts of thyroid hormone. Synthroid is the dominant and most expensive brand of levothyroxine sodium on the market.

In entering into the settlement, Knoll admitted no wrongdoing or violation of any state law, federal law, rule or regulation. The settlement document, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and Discontinuance, requires that in the future Knoll not make any false, misleading or deceptive claim regarding Synthroid or any other levothyroxine sodium product in advertising, promotion or labeling.

This settlement does not discharge Knoll's obligation to pay restitution to consumers who may have suffered monetary damages because of Knoll's conduct. A class action suit to provide restitution to consumers is pending. Knoll and the Attorneys General have agreed that if consumers do not receive restitution through that action, the Attorneys General may pursue such restitution.

Consumers interested in more information may call 1-800-853-4853.

Joining Attorney General Curran in the settlement were the Attorneys General of the States of Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357