U.S. submits revised plea
deal with Novelion's Aegerion to court
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[November 02, 2017] By
BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice
Department on Wednesday unveiled a revised a plea agreement with
Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc that aimed to appease a federal judge who
threatened to reject an earlier version that was part of a $36 million
The new plea agreement with the Novelion Therapeutics Inc unit came
after U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston on Oct. 18
expressed displeasure with the earlier version's sentencing terms
and said his "instinct is to reject it."
In court papers, prosecutors said they had sought to bolster the
plea deal by adding probation of three to five years and a
restriction on Aegerion and its employees from denying the factual
basis of its eventual guilty plea.
It was unclear if the new conditions would garner approval from
Young, who noted at the October hearing that he had in prior cases
criticized plea agreements that made the parties' sentencing
recommendations binding on the court.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Aegerion did not respond to a request
The judge's potential rejection of the plea deal marked an
unexpected complication for Aegerion to finalize a settlement
announced Sept. 22 aimed at resolving a long-running probe centered
on its Juxtapid cholesterol drug.
Prosecutors said that after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in
2012 approved Juxtapid for treating high cholesterol in people with
a rare genetic disease, Aegerion promoted it for patients who did
not have the condition.
As part of a deal with the Justice Department, Aegerion agreed to
plead guilty to two misdemeanor drug misbranding violations of the
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and pay $36 million to resolve criminal
and civil claims.
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It also entered a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve a charge
that it conspired to violate the Health Insurance Portability and
The settlements finalized agreements Aegerion disclosed in May 2016.
Aegerion in November 2016 merged with QLT Inc and became a
subsidiary of the newly named Novelion.
Following the Oct. 18 hearing, Aegerion said that Young's comments
were "consistent with his previously stated views that he will only
accept binding corporate plea agreements where there are 'special
reasons' to do so."
Young in 2012 and 2013 rejected similar corporate plea deals in
cases against Orthofix Inc and APTx Vehicle Systems Ltd, saying the
deals were "insufficiently protective of the public interest."
The case is U.S. v. Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc, U.S. District
Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 17-cr-10288.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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