A class action lawsuit has been filed against Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals charging the company with “deceptive practices in the marketing, advertising and promotion” of it Combivent Respimat asthma inhaler.
The lawsuit alleges the pharmaceutical firm “represents to doctors and lung obstruction sufferers that its Combivent inhalers provide 120 metered doses of relief from lung constriction” when the inhaler “contains far less … sometimes less than half this amount.”
The suit says the German-owned drug manufacturer, which has a research and manufacturing complex straddling the Ridgefield-Danbury town line, advertised the Combivent inhalers as providing 120 doses “through an extensive, widespread, comprehensive and uniform nationwide marketing campaign.”
Chris Wahlers, associate director of communications, primary care, with Boehringer Ingelheim in Ridgefield, responded to an enquiry from The Ridgefield Press about the lawsuit.
“Patient safety and product integrity are our top priorities,” Wahlers said in a May 9 email. “We diligently work to ensure all of our medicines, including Combivent Respimat, are manufactured in accordance with our FDA-approved processes and dosing, and we are confident that our inhaler delivers the correct doses of the medicine.”
He added, “As this is a new matter, we are still reviewing the complaint and will respond in due course.”
The lawsuit was filed May 3 by attorneys Stephen M. Bourtin of The Boyd Law Group of Stamford and C. K. Lee of the Lee Litigation Group in New York City on behalf of a named plaintiff “and all other persons similarly situation.”
The named plaintiff is Carl Ignacuinos, a Florida resident and a “long-time sufferer of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)” who has been using Boehringer’s Combivent inhaler “since at least 2016 to relieve his symptoms,” the lawsuit says.
“Plaintiff Ignacuinos pays a co-pay of $75 for Combivent for each of the first nine months of the year and then $140 for each of the remaining three months,” the suit alleges. “However, none of the Combivent inhalers he purchased actually delivered the advertised 120 doses. Most delivered half or less than half that amount and few delivered significantly more than half.”
In addition to being “financially injured” by paying for inhalers that didn’t deliver the advertised dosage, the suit charges “...Ignacuinos was additionally injured when he was required to restrict his activities because his Combivent had run out prematurely. Since he would no longer have a means of reliving his breathing obstructions at this point, he often was required to stay indoors in order to minimize the chances of a COPD attack, against which he would be helpless. This was a source of considerable mental anguish.”
The legal complaint includes logs the plaintiff kept on the number of doses he received from a series of Combivent inhalers purchased between August 2016 and July 2018. The number of doses ranged form a low of 45 to a high of 85, according to the lawsuit.
The legal complaint seeks “judgment against” Boehringer as defendant and “restitution and disgorgement of all amounts obtained by defendant as a result of its misconduct, together with interest” and a court injunction “directing defendant to identify, with court supervision, victims of its conduct and pay them all money they are required to pay, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees and costs for the lawsuit and “such other relief as the court may deem just and proper.”