Four-Year-Long Probe of Company Nets Maryland Over $200,000

January 10, 2000

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that the State of Maryland’s Medicaid program recovered $224,150 from the pharmaceutical manufacturer Genentech, Inc. in connection with a four-year long probe by the federal government into its marketing practices. In April of this year, Genentech paid $50 million and pled guilty to federal charges that it had actively promoted Protropin, a human growth hormone, for uses that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Genentech paid a $30 million fine to the United States Government, and dedicated restitution of $20 million to the affected government programs. Of this amount, $19 million was earmarked to repay the fifty state Medicaid programs.

In the mid-1980's, Protropin was approved by the FDA for dispensing to children whose growth was stunted because they lacked necessary growth hormones. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are prohibited by federal law from promoting their product for alternate uses, although doctors may choose to prescribe drugs for unapproved purposes. Genetech admitted that it actively and inappropriately marketed the product to physicians by suggesting that they dispense it to children who did not suffer from a hormone deficiency, but were merely growing at a lesser rate than their peers as the result of genetic or other factors.

As the result of this settlement, the participating state Medicaid programs recovered one and one-half times the amounts that each had paid for unapproved uses of the drug. The criminal prosecution was handled by the United States Attorney’s Office in San Francisco. The settlement agreements between Genentech and the state Medicaid programs were facilitated by the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

For more information about Maryland’s settlement, contact Carolyn McElroy, Director, at 410-576-6521. For more information on the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units, contact Barbara Zelner, at 202-326-6026.

For Further Information Contact:
Sean Caine
Public Information Officer
(410) 576-6357