Pfizer Pays $430 Million To Settle Fraud Case

By Agence France-Presse U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay some $430 million to settle charges of improper marketing tactics for its Neurontin epilepsy drug, company and government officials said May 13. The U.S. Justice Department said the settlement includes a $240 million fine for "illegal and fraudulent promotion of unapproved uses" for the drug. The tactics by the Warner-Lambert division predate the 2000 acquisition of that firm by Pfizer, the company noted. A Justice Department statement said that Warner-Lambert "aggressively marketed [Neurontin] to treat a wide array of ailments for which the drug was not approved." The company promoted Neurontin for bipolar mental disorder, various pain disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attention deficit disorder, migraine, drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures, restless leg syndrome, and as a first-line treatment for epilepsy, though it had been approved as a supplemental treatment for epilepsy. These actions, the government said, defrauded a number of government-funded health-care programs. "This illegal and fraudulent promotion scheme corrupted the information process relied upon by doctors in their medical decision-making, thereby putting patients at risk," said U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan. New York-based Pfizer said that it had set aside $427 million for the settlement, resolving the allegations. "The settlement reached today is a full and final resolution by Warner-Lambert of all outstanding federal and state governmental investigations related to the promotion and marketing of Neurontin (gabapentin) by Warner-Lambert's Parke-Davis Division," Pfizer said. "The underlying allegations and related investigations originated in 1996, well before Pfizer's acquisition of Warner-Lambert in 2000." Neurontin was approved in 1993 for the treatment of partial seizures in adults with epilepsy. In 2002, Pfizer received approval for Neurontin for treatment of a shingles-like condition. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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