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Genentech, Another Drug Firm Settle Whistleblower Suit for $67M

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. and another drug company have agreed to pay $67 million to settle a federal lawsuit that alleged the two companies made misleading statements about a cancer drug.

The settlement in federal court in San Francisco concerns the drug Tarceva, used to treat a type of lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.

It resolves a so-called "whistleblower" lawsuit filed under the U.S. False Claims Act in 2011 by Brian Shields, a former senior product manager for the drug.

Tarceva was marketed jointly by Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Farmingdale, N.Y., the second defendant in the case.

The Justice Department said while the case was settled, there was no finding that either company was legally liable for the claims.

The lawsuit alleged the two companies made misleading statements to doctors between 2006 and 2011 about the effectiveness of Tarceva in treating patients with non-small-cell lung cancer.

It alleged that there was little evidence to show that Tarceva was effective with those patients unless they had never smoked or had a mutation in a protein known as the epidermal growth factor receptor.

The department said the federal government will receive $62.6 million and state Medicaid programs will receive $4.4 million of the settlement. Shields will receive about $10 million of the government's proceeds.

Genentech was acquired in 2009 by Hoffmann-La Roche AG of Basel, Switzerland.

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