Pfizer to pay $325 million to settle Neurontin suit
NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc. has agreed to pay $325 million to settle a lawsuit brought by health-care benefit providers who claimed the drugmaker marketed the epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses.
The settlement, which needs approval from a federal judge in Boston, would end a case over claims that the company's Parke-Davis unit schemed to market the drug for unapproved conditions as early as 1994.
The accord was disclosed in court papers filed May 30 in Boston federal court, about six weeks after New York-based Pfizer agreed to a $190 million settlement over Neurontin in a separate case.
The Boston accord will resolve "all third-party payer claims regarding off-label promotion" and state antitrust claims over Neurontin sales, said company spokesman Steve Danehy. Pfizer didn't admit wrongdoing, he added.
"After more than ten years of hard-fought litigation, the parties have reached a settlement that will bring this litigation to a close," lawyers for the benefit firms said in a memorandum filed Friday.
The companies alleged that Parke-Davis, part of Warner- Lambert Co., paid kickbacks to doctors to encourage them to prescribe the anti-seizure drug for unapproved uses such as bipolar and panic disorders.
Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert in 2000 and "deliberately expanded the promotion of off-label uses," lawyers for the benefits firms said in an amended complaint filed in 2011.
Companies including Louisiana Blue Cross/Blue Shield sought to recover "billions of dollars" they paid as a result of a scheme to market and sell Neurontin "for a variety of uses for which it is not approved or medically efficacious," according to the complaint.
The drug is approved for the treatment of epilepsy and pain from shingles or herpes zoster.
In the other settlement, disclosed in April, Pfizer agreed to pay $190 million to end a suit over claims it violated U.S. antitrust law by delaying generic versions of Neurontin.
The drugmaker delayed competition by "improperly listing certain patents with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, engaging in illegal promotion and sales of Neurontin for unapproved uses, filing and maintaining sham litigations with respect to certain patents, and making misrepresentations to the patent courts," according to the 12-year-old lawsuit.