Shire is paying the US government $56.5 million to settle allegations about illegal marketing of several drugs, including its attention deficit hyperactivity disorder blockbusters Adderall XR and Vyvanse.

The Department of Justice has listed a number of bizarre claims that were allegedly made about the ADHD treatments. Shire, which is being acquired by AbbVie, was accused of marketing Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts) with unsupported claims such as the drug would prevent “poor academic performance, loss of employment, criminal behaviour, traffic accidents and sexually transmitted disease”.

As for Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), the company “also made allegedly unsupported claims that treatment…would prevent car accidents, divorce, arrests and unemployment”. There were also accusations that the ADHD patch Daytana (methylphenidate) was improperly marketed as less abuseable than pills, while the ulcerative colitis drug Lialda (mesalamine) was allegedly promoted off-label for the prevention of colorectal cancer.

In addition, Shire will pay $2.9 million to resolve a civil complaint filed by Louisiana alleging that its marketing practices violated state law. The company, which has not admitted any wrongdoing, has also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov said “we are pleased to have reached a resolution and to put this matter behind us”. He added that “we are committed to conducting our activities to meet the highest ethical standards”.

The allegations arose from a lawsuit filed by whistleblower Gerardo Torres, a former Shire executive, and a separate case submitted by three ex-sales reps. Mr Torres will receive $5.9 million.   

Since January 2009, the DoJ says it has recovered more than $22.4 billion through False Claims Act cases.