Pfizer to Pay $142.1 Million


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“The message, if there was a message, is that they acted in a fraudulent manner,” said Hank Pierotti, foreman of the eight-person federal jury in Boston, after the verdict. “If you’re fraudulent, you deserve to be punished.”

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals contended in a monthlong trial that Pfizer illegally promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses. The Oakland, Calif., insurer said it was misled into believing migraines and bipolar disorder were among the conditions that could be treated effectively with Neurontin, approved in 1993 by the Food and Drug Administration for epilepsy.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, the first insurer to try a Neurontin case against the drugmaker, told jurors Kaiser was forced to pay $90 million more than it should have for Neurontin.

The jury found yesterday that Pfizer violated the federal civil-racketeering law and California’s Unfair Competition Law. Under the racketeering law, the amount of actual damages found by the jury, $47.36 million, will be tripled.

“This is a triumph for evidence-based medicine over marketing-based medicine,” said Thomas Greene, a Kaiser lawyer.

“We are disappointed in this verdict,” said Chris Loder, a Pfizer spokesman. Pfizer will file post-trial motions challenging the verdict and plans to appeal, he said. Loder said that Kaiser doctors continue to prescribe Neurontin for off-label uses.

Pfizer last year acquired Wyeth, which has major operations in the Philadelphia area.

Pfizer argued that Kaiser doctors continued to prescribe the drug even after the health insurer sued Pfizer in 2005. The insurer’s Web site also still lists Neurontin as a drug for neuropathic pain, Pfizer lawyers said in closing arguments.

By Bob Van Voris and Janelle Lawrence

Bloomberg News — Posted by Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, March 26, 2010




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