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Pfizer Paying $42.9 Million To 33 States Including NC, For Illegal Marketing

5:00 PM, Dec 12, 2012   |    comments
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Raleigh, NC-- There is no question about it...there is big money to make if your marketing tactics works.

And, on the other hand, there is big money to pay if your marketing is considered illegal. That's what lPfizer found out recently after a class action lawsuit.

Today, the North Carolina Attorney General's office announced that Pfizer has agreed to pay $42.9 million to resolve allegations that the drug maker used unfair and deceptive practices to unlawfully promote its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica.

32 other states will also get money from the deal. 

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper said this about the settlement: "Decisions about medication should always but health over profits." "Doctors and patients deserve to get accurate, trustworthy information about drugs."

According attorney generals involved in the lawsuit: Zyvox is an antibacterial agent approved to treat certain types of infections, including a type of pneumonia and complicated skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). contend Pfizer marketed Zyvox as superior to vancomycin, an antibiotic that has been on the market for nearly fifty years that is also used to treat MRSA infections, although there is no substantial evidence that Zyvox is superior for some of the uses that Pfizer claimed. Pfizer reportedly continued to market Zyvox in this way even after being warned by the US Food and Drug Administration not to.

The other drug involved, Lyrica is a medication approved by the FDA to treat certain kinds of nerve pain, seizures and fibromyalgia. The states allege that Pfizer also marketed Lyrica for off-label, or non-approved, uses, such as to treat migraines and chronic pain. While doctors can prescribe drugs off-label, it's illegal for a drug maker to market its drugs for uses that haven't been approved by the FDA. The state's investigation found that Pfizer used an incentive plan to motivate its sales force to encourage physicians to convert their patients to Lyrica.

Under today's agreement, Pfizer has agreed not to promote its products for off-label uses, and not to make false, misleading, or deceptive claims when comparing the efficacy or safety of Zyvox to vancomycin. The company will also design financial incentives to ensure that its marketing personnel are not motivated to market Zyvox or Lyrica improperly, and will notify its sales force promptly of any FDA warning letters that affects their promotion of Pfizer products.


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