On October 10, 2014, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio sided with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) and entered a consent decree for permanent injunction against Ascend Laboratories, LLC. As we previously reported, Ascend had been targeted in connection with the marketing and sale of certain products, deemed drugs by the FDA, without first obtaining formal FDA approval. As explained in FDA’s announcement of the injunction, the Company is now enjoined from marketing these products until they first secure FDA approval and post bond to recover the seized products.
As we previously reported, on May 16, 2014, representatives from the U.S. Marshals Service had seized more than $11 million worth of unapproved drugs held by Masters Pharmaceuticals of Ohio and marketed by Ascend Laboratories of New Jersey. The U.S. Marshals seized urea cream 39%, hydrocortisone acetate suppositories 25 mg, urea cream 40%, pramoxine-HC otic drops, and urea lotion 40%. The FDA and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio requested the seizure because the drugs were not marketed in accordance with FDA regulations, in that they were marketed for conditions that caused them to be deemed drugs but the Company had not secured the necessary FDA approval for the products.
The pramoxine-HC drops were intended to control itching and treat external ear infections caused by bacteria. Ascend Laboratories allegedly marketed the hydrocortisone acetate suppositories for the relief of symptoms caused by ulcerative colitis, inflamed hemorrhoids, and other inflammatory conditions. All three urea-containing products were intended to treat dermatitis, eczema, and other conditions that cause thickening of the skin.
Because none of these products have been proven safe or effective for their intended uses, i.e., obtained FDA approval for the treatment of these diseases and/or conditions, the FDA filed a Complaint alleging that the drugs were misbranded under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The complaint came approximately six months after an inspection revealed Ascend Laboratories was allegedly marketing certain products for the treatment of diseases and/or conditions without obtaining FDA approval.
The FDA’s announcement of this seizure explains that these drugs were seized under the Marketed Unapproved Drugs Compliance Policy Guide, which states that any unapproved new drug first marketed after September 19, 2011 is subject to immediate enforcement action even if the marketer never received a prior warning from the FDA. The FDA Compliance Policy Guide for unapproved marketed drugs lists several enforcement priorities. The first two priorities are drugs with potential safety risks and drugs that lack evidence of effectiveness. The FDA is also taking enforcement action against the marketers of so-called health fraud drugs. These products are represented as effective for diagnosing, preventing, curing, or treating diseases, but they have not been scientifically proven safe or effective for their intended purposes.
Drug manufacturers and marketers are subject to close scrutiny under the FDA’s guidelines. The agency has the right to seize drugs and other medical products without any prior warning, putting businesses in this industry at risk for serious losses. If you have any questions about FDA approval or you need help responding to a complaint filed by the FDA, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.