Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. have agreed to pay $2.3 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Department announced September 2, 2009.
Pharmacia & Upjohn Company has agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead. Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns.
In addition, Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs – Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug – and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to healthcare providers to induce them to prescribe these, as well as other, drugs.
Additional whistleblower lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act are pending, according to a September 2 press release by the United States Department of Justice.
For the full press release, go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2009/September/09-aag-900.html.
For more information about qui tam law and health care fraud, contact Nolan and Auerbach, PA.