By Emily Cox
Following an order that expanded the Taxotere marketing fraud lawsuit’s discovery to include two additional drugs, the breast cancer drug manufacturer was quick to file a response to prevent the court from compelling the company to produce this evidence.
Judge Lawrence F. Stengel issued the order late last week to expand the discovery scope in investigating alleged Taxotere marketing fraud to include Aventis drugs Nasacort and Lovenox. The order was in response to plaintiff Yoash Gohil’s motion to compel the discovery and prevent Aventis from withholding evidence. The motion suggested that evidence related to these other drugs showed a corporate policy of illegal and fraudulent marketing activities like the ones the company is accused of in relation to Taxotere.
“[This evidence is] relevant to the defendants’ state of mind, motive, corporate intent, and/or reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of claims,” the motion states.
Gohil also asserted that this evidence proves that Aventis violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Furthermore, the illegal and fraudulent Nasacort, Lovenox, and Taxotere marketing directives may have come from the same management. Gohil strongly indicated that this evidence shows a corporate culture of deceit, fraud, and corruption.
“[There is] extensive evidence of corporate goals to promote Taxotere and other drugs off-label; the use of corporate-wide kickbacks; systematic destruction of corporate records directed by the legal department to conceal off-label promotion and kickbacks, as well as obstruction of FDA inquiries,” the motion states.
Now, Aventis is desperate to keep the Taxotere marketing fraud investigation focused solely on Taxotere. In its response filed Tuesday, the company called the expanded discovery disproportionate to the needs of the case. Aventis pled the court to withhold this evidence.
Taxotere Marketing Fraud Lawsuit
Gohil is joined by the U.S. in his qui tam lawsuit, also known as a whistle blower lawsuit. They claim that Aventis engaged in fraudulent marketing practices. They further allege that the company provided illegal kickback and other illicit incentives. This was to encourage doctors to use Taxotere as first line treatment for less aggressive cancers. The FDA has only approved Taxotere for the treatment of certain aggressive, late stage cancers when other treatments have failed. The lawsuit indicates that the company has engaged in this behavior since 1996.
Allegedly, Aventis trained and directed employees to misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of off-label Taxotere use. The company also paid healthcare providers illegal kickbacks to get doctors to prescribe Taxotere for off-label use. These kickbacks included entertainment, sports, concert tickets, sham grants, speaking fees, travel, preceptorship fees, and fee reimbursement.
Taxotere’s illegal promotion increased the drug’s revenue from $424 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2004. Consequently, it unnecessarily exposed thousands of women to the increased toxicity of Taxotere. This increased toxicity also comes with more severe side effects, including permanent hair loss.
In fact, the number of Taxotere lawsuits continues to skyrocket as more women discover Aventis knew about this permanent hair loss risk for more than a decade. However, the company hid it from American breast cancer victims. While the company started including permanent hair loss warnings on Taxotere in other countries, starting in 2005, it kept Americans in the dark until late 2015.