Madigan: drug company allegedly misled patients through false advertising

By WEEK Producer

Madigan: drug company allegedly misled patients through false advertising

December 12, 2012 Updated Dec 12, 2012 at 3:44 PM CDT

CHICAGO -- Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Inc. will have to make a $42.9 million payout over allegations the company engaged in fraudulent marketing of its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the settlement on Wednesday, saying that she and 32 other attorneys general brought forward the allegations.

Part of the allegations claimed that Pfizer promoted Zyvox as a superior medication to vancomycin, an antibiotic used by physicians for decades, without scientific evidence to back up that claim and without disclosing critical safety information for patients.

The attorneys general also alleged Pfizer illegally promoted its seizure medication, Lyrica, for “off-label uses,” or to treat conditions, including chronic pain and migraines, without approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer also allegedly incentivized its sales employees to promote Lyrica over another drug, Neurontin, and its generic equivalent, gabapentin, without scientific evidence to back up claims that Lyrica would produce better results for patients.

“Pfizer put its business interests ahead of patients’ health and safety,” Madigan said. “The settlement will put a stop to the company’s potentially dangerous sales and marketing practices.”

Under the settlement, Pfizer must reform how it markets and promotes Zyvox and Lyrica.

Illinois will receive $2.1 million under the settlement.

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