KIYC: NJ pharmaceutical company pays $300M in settlements

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Daiichi Sanko, a Japanese pharmaceutical company with a US headquarters in New Jersey, has agreed to pay $300 million to settle 2,300 lawsuits stemming from the blood pressure medication, Benicar. The drug and its maker were at the center of a 2016 Kane In Your Corner investigation into pharmaceutical companies that pay doctors to promote their products.

“It's really gratifying to know we're able to reach a settlement that’s going to take care of 2,000 people in one shot,” says Adam Slater, a New Jersey attorney who represents more than 240 Benicar victims and their families. 

One of Slater’s clients is Jessica Wohlfson, whose mother, Lucia Patrone, died in 2014 after taking the drug. Some research shows Benicar can cause severe gastrointestinal side effects. Wohlfson says once she started taking it, her mother “couldn’t go to work anymore, she would just lay in bed or go to the bathroom and be sick”.

Daiichi does not admit any wrongdoing, and still insists the lawsuits are without merit. The company’s president, Glenn Gormley says Daiichi only agreed to the settlement “to continue our focus on bringing to market innovative medicines that help people live healthy and meaningful lives.”

But this isn’t Daiichi’s first Benicar related settlement. The company previously paid the U.S. Justice Department $39 million to settle allegations that the company paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing Benicar. Daiichi did not admit any wrongdoing in that settlement either, claiming it only compensated doctors for educational speeches. However, the feds found some doctors were paid to give speeches to their office staff or spouses.

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