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Novo Nordisk pays $58.7m to settle claims of mis-selling liraglutide

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 08 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4214

Re: Novo Nordisk pays $58.7m to settle claims of mis-selling liraglutide

Reading that Novo Nordisk have settled seven US lawsuits related to mis-selling liraglutide did not come as a surprise to me, given the company’s history.

In 2011 they previously settled two cases. The first was for promoting off label use of its clotting drug, NovoSeven, for $25m. The second related to its marketing of diabetic drugs, Novolog and Novolin, and was settled for $1.7m. [1] Despite the settlement of $58.7m for liraglutide being larger, it only totals 7% of the drugs sales and is therefore unlikely to act as a significant deterrent to similar practises in future.

Novo Nordisk are of course not alone. Multiple other companies have settled lawsuits around drug marketing in the past 5 years, with increasingly expensive settlements: GlaxoSmithKline $3bn for paroxetine and other drugs, Abbott Laboratories $1.6bn for Depakote, [2] and Johnson & Johnson $2.2bn for risperidone. [3]

Given the continued mis-selling of pharmaceuticals, where these settlements are just considered an expected cost of doing business, I wonder if change in tact is required. Instead of regulators settling these cases out of court, pursuing criminal charges for these companies may be the only way to reduce the mis-selling of drugs.


Competing interests: No competing interests

21 September 2017
Katie L Preston
Anaesthetic trainee