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$43 million settlement reached with Pfizer over alleged unlawful marketing of Zyvox, Lyrica

December 12, 2012

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) announced Dec. 12 a $42.9 million settlement with Pfizer Inc. over allegations the pharmaceutical company engaged in fraudulent marketing and sales of its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica.

Madigan and 32 other attorneys general alleged the company 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. The company must not make any false, misleading or deceptive claims when comparing the efficacy or safety of Zyvox to vancomycin or promote any Pfizer product for off-label uses. The settlement also requires Pfizer to bar financial incentives for employees based upon improper marketing of Zyvox and Lyrica, and the company must promptly notify its sales force of any warning letter received from the FDA that affects sales representatives in their promotion of Pfizer products.

Illinois will receive $2.1 million under the settlement.

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

Posted Dec. 12, 2012

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