(Reuters) - AbbVie Inc <ABBV.N> has agreed to pay $24 million (18.3 million pounds) to settle a lawsuit that alleged insurance fraud by the drugmaker in promoting its blockbuster drug Humira, California's insurance regulator said on Thursday.
AbbVie denied the allegations, but agreed to look into how Humira is marketed to health care providers in the state, the regulator said
The Insurance Commissioner of California said the company also agreed to disclose that AbbVie, and not a medical provider, paid the registered nurses who are employed as so-called AbbVie Ambassadors to interact with patients about Humira.
Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said AbbVie has paid $24 million to California and the whistleblower, a registered nurse who brought the case to the department's attention in October 2016.
AbbVie said in a statement it was glad the settlement allows its nurse ambassador program to continue with no significant changes and noted that some parallel cases have been dismissed in other courts.
Humira, the company's flagship arthritis treatment, brought in sales of $3.97 billion in the latest quarter. It has been the major driver of AbbVie's growth in recent years but faces expirations of its patents in U.S. in 2023.
Among other things, the regulator had alleged AbbVie violated California's Insurance Frauds Prevention Act by unlawfully providing free and valuable professional goods and services to physicians to induce and reward Humira prescriptions.
(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)