Pfizer Must Pay $142 Million for Neurontin Marketing

Pfizer Must Pay $142 Million for Neurontin Marketing

April 4th, 2013 // 2:30 pm @

In a setback to Pfizer, a federal appeals court upheld a ruling that the drugmaker must pay $142 million after all to Kaiser Foundation Health plan for marketing the epilepsy drug for unapproved uses. The court also decided that lawsuits filed by other insurers and employers, which had been tossed by a lower court, can be revived.

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In its original lawsuit, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which are based in California, had charged Pfizer with illegally promoting Neurontin for treating migraine headaches, pain and bipolar disorder, among other things (background here and here).

Nine years ago, Pfizer (PFE) agreed to pay $430 million in penalties and pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegally marketing Neurontin, which was one of the meds that were obtained as part of its 2000 acquisition of Warner Lambert.

In appealing the $142 million jury verdict, which was issued three years ago, Pfizer contended that Kaiser failed to produce sufficient evidence to uphold the award. “We reject the argument,” the appeals court wrote in a 64-page decision.

The court sent the case back to a federal district court judge to revive racketeering claims alleged by the other insurers and also to reexamine whether the cases should be certified as a class action.

In a statement given to Reuters, Kaiser said it was “very pleased” and that “justice has been achieved for our members and the physicians, pharmacists and staff who care for them.” For its part, Pfizer told the news service that it believes “there was no basis in fact or law” for the awards in the Kaiser case.

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