Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has tentatively agreed to a $190 million class action settlement that would essentially resolve claims made by thousands of direct purchasers that the company delayed the production and implementation of generic versions of its drug Neurontin and heavily marketed it for uses unapproved by the FDA.
There have been numerous lawsuits filed in reference to the drug, which is only FDA-approved to treat epilepsy and Shingles. According to medical advocate Tuum Est , “In 1996, Pfizer employee Dr. David Franklin filed a whistleblower lawsuit on the basis that 88% of the revenue from Neurontin was from off-label uses, yet much of the evidence supporting those off-label uses was known to be fabricated.” Since then, Pfizer is accused of continuing to market the drug for off-label uses in order to push out competition from the cheaper generic brand, Gabapentin.
Top Class Actions notes that “in 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegally marketing Neurontin and agreed to pay $430 million following an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.”
This class action lawsuit was filed in 2002 by direct purchasers of Neurontin, which is moderately expensive. The plaintiffs argue that Pfizer violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by undermining competition to effectively gain a monopoly using untruthful marketing practices. According to the lawsuit, Pfizer employed off-label promotion, meaning it marketed the drug to doctors for use that is not yet approved by the FDA. Though doctors may prescribe any medication they believe will help a patient, regardless of intended use, the practice of marketing the drug for off-label use is illegal.
In addition, the lawsuit states that Pfizer “manipulated the patent application process, filed bogus patent lawsuits and engaged in fraud (Top Class Actions).” The plaintiffs claim that the drug manufacturer’s unethical and illegal practices forced them to pay inflated prices for the brand name Neurontin.
On April 21, lawyers representing the direct purchasers filed a motion requesting the preliminary approval of the class action settlement. Attorneys for the plaintiffs state the “settlement was reached after ‘intensive arms’-length negotiations, including multiple mediation sessions held with a skilled mediator,’ as well as substantial discovery.”
Neurontin manufacturer Pfizer will pay $190 million in cash, plus interest in exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit. For its part, the drug giant has not accepted blame and denies any wrongdoing. The company claims it agreed to the settlement to end the litigation that has dragged on for more than a decade.
Common Unapproved Uses for Neurontin Include:
• Bipolar disorder • Neuropathic pain • Diabetic neuropathy • Complex regional pain syndrome • Attention deficit disorder • Restless legs syndrome • Trigeminal neuralgia • Periodic limb movement disorder of sleep • Migraine • Drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures (Source: Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy data)
Prescribing a drug to patients for unapproved usage can increase the risk of a serious reaction, and can do little to help a patients symptoms.
Common Side Effects Include:
• Dizzinesss • Headaches • Increased thoughts of suicide • Weight gain • Unsteadiness (Source: The Mayo Clinic)
At the most basic, fundamental level, pharmaceutical companies have the absolute responsibility to present their products in an honest manner that puts the health and safety of patients above all else. When companies like Pfizer violate the trust of medical professionals and consumers, they need to be held accountable. If you or a loved one was prescribed Neurontin for off-label or unapproved use, Alman & Altman can help. Our dedicated team of experienced Products Liability Lawyers is available 24 hours a day to discuss your rights and walk you through the process to receive the compensation you deserve. Our team of product liability and drug injury attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of drug injury cases. It may seem daunting to go up against some of the country’s largest pharmaceutical corporations, but the team at Altman & Altman has successfully fought against these pharmaceutical corporations to achieve the highest possible settlements for our clients.
Read the full article at Top Class Actions
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