Pfizer agrees to $42.9 million multi-state settlement

By Bryan Cohen | Dec 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Legal Newsline) - A $42.9 million multi-state settlement was announced on Wednesday with Pfizer Inc. to resolve allegations of fraudulent marketing sales of the drugs Lyrica and Zyvox.

Under the terms of the settlement, Pfizer must reform how it markets and promotes Lyrica and Zyvox by not promoting any Pfizer product for off-label uses and by making no deceptive or misleading claims when comparing the safety or efficacy of Zyvox to vancomycin.

The settlement also requires that Pfizer remove financial incentives for employees based on improper marketing of the drugs, promptly notifying its sales force of any U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning letters that affect the promotion of the products.

"Pfizer put its business interests ahead of patients' health and safety," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. "The settlement will put a stop to the company's potentially dangerous sales and marketing practices."

States involved in the settlement include Wisconsin, Virginia, Washington, Vermont, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Hawaii, Florida, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Colorado, California, Arkansas, Arizona and Alabama.

Pfizer allegedly promoted Zyvox as a superior medication to vancomycin, an antibiotic, without scientific evidence to back up the claim and without disclosing safety information to patients. The company also allegedly illegally promoted Lyrica, its seizure medication, for off-label uses such as the treatment of migraines and chronic pain, without FDA approval. Pfizer also allegedly incentivized its sales employees to promote Lyrica over Neurontin, another drug, without scientific evidence to back up the claims of better results.

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