ABPI suspends Roche for questionable marketing practices

7/23/2008

NEW YORK Alleging inappropriate business transactions, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry has suspended Roche.

The association alleges that between 2003 and 2005, Roche supplied the drug Xenical to the owner of a chain of diet clinics who then sold the capsules to patients while falsely claiming to be a licensed pharmacist. ABPI also alleges that Roche paid the clinic owner to fund the purchase of an additional clinic.

GlaxoSmithKline sells the drug over the counter as Alli in the United States, but it requires a prescription in the United Kingdom. The drug, known generically as orlistat, works by blocking the digestion of fat.

Xenical had sales of $254.6 million in the six months ending June 30, according to Roche financial data.

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