Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Plaintiffs Get AbbVie Medical Fraud Case Remanded to State Court

AbbVie Loses Judge-Switch Bid in Humira Fraud Case

As reported by law360, AbbVie Inc.’ motion to have a single judge rule over a pair of fraud cases in which the pharmaceutical company allegedly illegally marketed its drug Humira has been denied

In late 2018, Lieff Cabraser and the California Insurance Commissioner sued AbbVie, Inc. for violations of the Insurance Frauds Prevention Act (“IFPA”) by providing kickbacks to healthcare providers throughout California relating to sale of the immunosuppressive drug Humira – illicit schemes to improperly and significantly pump up the sales of the drug. This week, AbbVie’s attempt to circumvent justice by shopping for a judge demonstrably favorable to its arguments failed. AbbVie sought reassignment in February after two judges issued “divergent” rulings on motions to dismiss.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Alameda, California, alleges that AbbVie actions constituted a far-reaching scheme to maximize profits and the number of prescriptions of Humira that included “classic” kickbacks—including cash, meals, drinks, gifts, trips, and patient referrals—but also leveraged new and more sophisticated kickbacks, including providing professional services to physicians to induce and reward their writing of additional Humira prescriptions. As the plaintiffs argue, these kickbacks provided substantial benefits to participating doctors and their staff.

The judges presiding over the two relevant cases disagreed on whether basic product support services can be an unlawful kickback. Plaintiffs in the securities class action filed a response to the motion claiming AbbVie’s bid to switch judges was “nothing more than a ‘pretext[ual]’ attempt to reassign the [securities case] from a judge who denied the company’s motion to dismiss in its entirety to a judge whom it believes will be ‘friendlier’ to its position.”

The reassignment bid came more than two years after the filing of the securities fraud case, in which AbbVie was accused of deceiving investors into believing their drug Humira, was the best-selling drug due to exceptional marketing and not unlawful kickbacks.

Learn more about Lieff Cabraser’s AbbVie Humera kickbacks lawsuit.

Read the full article at Law360 here (subscription).