Amgen pharmaceutical sales representatives promoted Aranesp for the once monthly dose (off label), according to a complaint filed by the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York. The complaint was filed last Tuesday.
The company had tried to get Aranesp's dosage's listing in the Pharmacopeia's Drug Information, which would then allow Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse its usage off-label.
The criminal complaint stated "As part of its strategy to increase sales of Aranesp, Amgen instructed its sales representatives to distribute laminated reprints of the Aranesp compendia listing for the (once monthly) QM dose to healthcare professionals with the intent that the healthcare professionals would use Aranesp for QM dosing."
Prosecutors explained that Aranesp is administered intravenously or by injection. Patients often find it painful, so changing from twice a month to once a month would make it more desirable.
Prosecutors said that Amgen had been "pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety".