Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories is a U.S. health care company. It specializes in cardiovascular, diagnostics, diabetes and neuromodulation products. Abbott is also well-known for its pediatric and adult nutrition brands including Pedialyte, Ensure, Glucerna and Similac. In 2018, the company recalled its HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist System and St. Jude defibrillators.

Abbott Laboratories is a U.S. health care company. It is well-known for its medical devices and nutritional products.

The company’s revenues reached over $27 million in 2017. Its best-selling products are its cardiovascular and neuromodulation products, followed by nutritionals, diagnostics and pharmaceutical drugs.

Abbott ranked No. 1 in worldwide adult nutrition and blood testing in 2017. Its new 24/7 blood glucose monitoring device, FreeStyle Libre, helped the company’s sales for diabetes products grow by 20 percent.

About Abbott

Abbott Laboratories has over 125 years’ experience in the consumer health care and pharmaceutical industry. The company has 31 manufacturing sites and 12 development centers around the world.

Did You Know?
Abbott makes 1,500 products with more than 400 currently in development.
Source: Abbott’s 2017 annual report

Abbott employs about 99,000 people in over 150 countries. Its headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois at Abbott Park.

Miles D. White is Abbott Laboratories’ current CEO.

Abbott History

Abbott got its start in 1888. Practicing physician and drug store owner Wallace Abbott founded Abbott Alkaloidal Company.

Abbott made about $2,000 in its first year. The company was incorporated in 1894.

In 1907, Abbott expanded its reach outside the U.S. with the opening of an office in London, England. Abbott produced its first synthetic medicine, Chlorazene, in 1916. This antiseptic medicine was used to treat wounded World War I soldiers.

Abbive and Abbott logo split.
Abbott Laboratories split from AbbVie Inc. in 2013.

Abbott’s breakthroughs and acquisitions continued into the 21st century. Abbott officially separated from its sister company, AbbVie, in 2013.

Abbott wanted to focus on heart stents and other medical devices. AbbVie’s main concentration is pharmaceutical drugs.

Abbott acquired St. Jude Medical and Alere Inc. in 2017. It paid more than $28 billion for both companies. Abbott wanted to expand its reach and boost its diagnostics presence in the U.S. and worldwide.

Abbott Products

Abbott is the maker of many popular products in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, diabetes, diagnostics, neuromodulation, nutrition and pharmaceuticals.

Some of its well-known brands include Similac, PediaSure, Pedialyte, Brufen, Klacid, Alinity, Ensure, FreeStyle, iStat and MitraClip.

The company claims to be a market leader in blood screening, adult and pediatric nutrition, left ventricular assist devices, remote heart failure monitoring, and point-of-care testing.

Abbott Vascular, Medical Devices and Drugs
Assurity MRI Pacemaker
Magnetic resonance (MR) conditional pacemaker
HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD
Assists the heart in pumping blood throughout the body and increasing oxygen supply to organs
MitraClip Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair System
World’s first transcatheter mitral valve repair to be used as a last-resort therapeutic option
FreeStyle Family
Blood glucose monitoring systems
Alere i
Detection system to differentiate between influenza virus A and B
Alinity
Point-of-care and diagnostics systems including blood testing
BurstDR Stimulation
Neurostimulation to treat chronic pain
St. Jude Medical Infinity DBS System
Deep brain stimulation therapy
Xience
Peripheral and coronary (vascular) stents
Biaxin/Klacid
Macrolide antibiotic (clarithromycin)
Brufen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID/ibuprofen)
Creon
Replaces digestive/pancreatic enzymes to improve food digestion
Dicetel
Calcium channel blocker to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Femosten
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug for women
Luvox
Antidepressant used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Synthroid
Thyroid hormone
Tarka/Teveten
High blood pressure medications
Tricor
Reduces cholesterol and fatty acids (triglycerides) in the blood

Abbott Lawsuits and Settlements

Abbott has faced lawsuits over its drug Tricor, FreeStyle diabetes products and St. Jude defibrillators.

The company was also named co-defendant alongside AbbVie in lawsuits over the popular pharmaceutical drugs Humira and Depakote.

St. Jude Class Action Lawsuit

St. Jude defibrillator implant
Cardioverter defibrillators can prevent sudden death in patients with certain heart conditions.

Just months after acquiring St. Jude Medical, Abbott found itself mixed up in a nationwide class action suit.

The lawsuit claims that St. Jude Medical knew about a battery-depletion defect in some of its cardiac defibrillators starting in 2011, but the company did not adequately report the risk.

Instead, the company waited almost five years before initiating a recall of the faulty devices in October 2016.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of public and private health insurance payers who had to pay for the high-priced defective devices and surgeries. Plaintiffs are seeking just over $9.9 million in damages.

FreeStyle Diabetes Products Lawsuits

The parents of a diabetic woman who died after using Abbott’s FreeStyle test strips and blood glucose monitor system sued Abbott.

They filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois, in December 2014.

Abbie Harper died in November 2013. Abbott recalled the test strips Harper was using four days after her death.

Harper’s parents alleged that the defective test strips provided inaccurately low blood glucose results. This caused Harper to receive too little insulin from her insulin pump made by Walgreen, a different manufacturer also named in the lawsuit.

Harper went two days with receiving too little insulin before she died from diabetes-related complications.

Depakote 500mg tablet
Depakote is used to treat seizure disorders.

Depakote Lawsuits

Depakote lawsuits claim children suffered birth defects because their mothers took Depakote during pregnancy. Abbott rid itself of all rights and responsibilities for Depakote when it separated from AbbVie.

Tricor Antitrust Class Action Settlement

In late-2008, Abbott agreed to pay $184 million to settle antitrust claims brought by competitor pharmaceutical companies, drug stores and other purchasers.

Competitors who sued Abbott included Teva Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories. They claimed Abbott blocked cheaper generic versions of its cholesterol medication Tricor from making their way to consumers.

Abbott reached another settlement in April 2009 to resolve the last of the claims. That settlement cost Abbott another $250 million. Tricor brought in more than $1 billion in sales for Abbott in 2007.

Humira device image
Humira suppresses the immune system by blocking TNF.

Humira Lawsuits

Humira lawsuits blame the drug for causing infection and cancer. Patients have sued Abbott and AbbVie over the drug.

Abbott Recalls

Abbott recalled some of its popular medical devices and other products after they caused patient injuries and deaths.

Notable Abbott Recalls
  • 2018
    Product Recalled – HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist System

    Reason for Recall – malfunction in the device that can slow down or stop pump flow, setting off a persistent low flow alarm in the system and causing blood clots and death

    Number of Units Affected – 4,878
  • 2018
    Product Recalled – implantable defibrillators

    Reason for Recall – potential for hacking

    Number of Units Affected – 350,000
  • 2017
    Product Recalled – Abbott pacemakers including Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity and Allure (St. Jude implantable defibrillators)

    Reason for Recall – potential for hackers to take over the devices

    Number of Units Affected – 465,000
  • 2017
    Product Recalled – three different coronary catheters including NC Trek RX and NC Traveler dilatation catheters and NC Tenku RX PTCA balloon catheters

    Reason for Recall – 19 reports of injury and one report of death due to difficulty removing the protective balloon sheath; defect resulted in problems with inflating or deflating the balloon during procedures; it caused air embolism, thrombosis (clot in the artery), heart attack and death

    Number of Units Affected – 132,040
  • 2014
    Product Recalled – FreeStyle Flash Blood Glucose Monitoring System and FreeStyle Blood Glucose Monitoring System

    Reason for Recall – potential to produce low blood glucose results when used with older FreeStyle test strips

    Units Affected – expands on of November 2013 recall of 20 specific lots of FreeStyle and FreeStyle Lite blood glucose test strips in U.S.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Kristin Compton's background is in legal studies. She worked as a paralegal before joining Drugwatch as a writer and researcher. She was also a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants. A mother and longtime patient, she has firsthand experience of the harmful effects prescription drugs can have on women and their children. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies | Pre-Law from University of West Florida
  • Past employment with The Health Law Firm and Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson LLC
  • Personal experience battling severe food allergies, asthma and high-risk pregnancies

23 Cited Research Articles

  1. Abbott. (n.d.). Abbott at a Glance. Retrieved from http://www.abbott.com/about-abbott/at-a-glance.html
  2. Abbott. (2017). 2017 Annual Report. Retrieved from http://www.annualreports.com/HostedData/AnnualReports/PDF/NYSE_ABT_2017.pdf
  3. Abbott. (n.d.). Our Products. Retrieved from http://www.abbott.com/product-list.html
  4. Abbott. (n.d.). Our Heritage. Retrieved from http://www.abbott.com/about-abbott/our-heritage.html
  5. Howard, S. (2008, November 20). Abbott Settles TriCor Class Action For $184M. Law360. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/77718/abbott-settles-tricor-class-action-for-184m
  6. Pharmaceutical Processing. (2008, November 21). Abbott Labs Announces $184 Million In Settlements. Retrieved from https://www.pharmpro.com/news/2008/11/abbott-labs-announces-184-million-settlements
  7. The Associated Press. (2009, November 30). Abbott gives Teva TriCor rights as early as 2011. Product Design and Development. Retrieved from https://www.pddnet.com/news/2009/11/abbott-gives-teva-tricor-rights-early-2011
  8. Vanderford, R. (2009, April 24). $250M Settles TriCor Antitrust Class Suit V. Abbott. Law360. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/98482
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017, October 10). Abbott Vascular Recalls Coronary Catheters Due to Risks Stemming from Difficulty Removing Balloon Sheath. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/ListofRecalls/ucm559603.htm
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, May 22). Abbott Recalls the HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist System Due to Potential Malfunction that May Lead to Graft Occlusion. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/ListofRecalls/ucm608396.htm
  11. Wendling, P. (2017, September 21). Abbott Hit With $9.9 Million Class-Action Over St Jude Devices. Medscape. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/886026
  12. Hirst, E. J. (2015, March 9). Family of diabetic U. of C. student sues Abbott, Walgreen over her death. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-abbott-wrongful-death-lawsuit-0310-biz-20150309-story.html
  13. Carlson, J. (2018, June 25). Medtronic, Abbott push new diabetes monitoring systems. Star Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/medtronic-abbott-push-new-diabetes-monitoring-systems/486505911/
  14. Elejalde-Ruiz, A. (2018, June 26). As crushing student debt keeps young people from saving, employers are stepping up to ease the squeeze. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-abbott-student-loan-repayment-0626-story.html
  15. Freeman, D. W. (2010, December 23). Abbott Laboratories Recalls Diabetes Test Strips (Product List). CBS News. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/abbott-laboratories-recalls-diabetes-test-strips-product-list/
  16. Tucker, M. E. (2014, February 25). Abbott Recalls Older Freestyle Glucose Monitoring Systems. Medscape. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/821048
  17. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2014, February 19). Class 1 Device Recall FreeStyle Flash Blood Glucose Monitors. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfRes/res.cfm?id=125636
  18. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2010, September 22). EEOC Sues Abbott Labs for Age Discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/9-22-10c.cfm
  19. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abbott Laboratories. (2013, March 29). Decision and Order. Case No. 10-C-833. United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin. Retrieved from https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20130408b78
  20. Jeremy Didier v. Abbott Laboratories, et al. (2014, May 13). Memorandum & Order. Case 2:13-cv-02046-JWL. United States District Court, Kansas. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-ksd-2_13-cv-02046/pdf/USCOURTS-ksd-2_13-cv-02046-2.pdf
  21. Stefanini, S. (2007, February 13). Abbott Ordered To Pay $6M In Discrimination Suit. Law360. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/18480/abbott-ordered-to-pay-6m-in-discrimination-suit
  22. Tampone, K. (2017, September 5). Abbott pacemaker recall: 465,000 devices vulnerable to possible hacking. Syracuse.com. Retrieved from https://www.syracuse.com/product-recalls/2017/09/abbott_pacemaker_recall_hacking_fda.html
  23. Hollister, S. (2018, May 4). Abbott recalls 350,000 implantable defibrillators to protect against hacks. CNet. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/news/abbott-recalls-350000-implantable-defibrillators-to-protect-against-hacks/
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