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Firm Fined for Improperly Promoting Drug

April 15, 1999|Bloomberg News

Genentech Inc., a biotechnology company majority-owned by Switzerland's Roche Holding, agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it improperly promoted its growth hormone and will pay $50 million in fines. Genentech settled the dispute with the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, which accused the company of illegally promoting its growth hormone Protropin as a treatment for kidney disorders and burns from 1985 to 1994, applications for which the drug was not approved. It marked the first time the U.S. government has prosecuted a pharmaceutical company for promoting and distributing a drug for uses for which it was not approved. Genentech said last week that it expected to reach a settlement with the government and took a first-quarter charge of $50 million, or 33 cents a share, to cover the fines. Genentech shares rose 6 cents to close at $86.63 on the NYSE.

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