Cephalon takes heat for off-label narcotic promotion

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has determined that Cephalon "engaged in questionable practices" to increase sales of the narcotic painkiller lollipop Actiq. The drug, which is FDA-approved only for use in treating cancer pain, is widely prescribed for conditions such as migraines and backache as well. With a growing number of patients becoming addicted to Actiq, which contains fentanyl, government regulators and physicians were concerned that marketing tactics were leading to over-use of the drug. Though off-label use is not illegal, the two-year investigation found that Cephalon went too far in promoting Actiq for unapproved uses by setting high sales quotas and pushing higher doses of the drug. According to the Wall Street Journal, the findings "could result in civil charges under the state's patient and consumer protection laws if Cephalon doesn't agree to a settlement." The drug maker's lawyers are meeting with Blumenthal next month to discuss the findings.

- read this Wall Street Journal article for more (sub. req.)

Related Article:
Off-label use of narcotic raises questions. Report