Health Law

Pfizer to Pay Record $2.3B, Subsidiary to Plead to Felony in Drug Marketing Case


A $2.3 billion global settlement by Pfizer Inc. detailed by federal authorities today reportedly includes a number of record payments to resolve both a federal criminal probe and a pharmaceutical whistle-blower case.

The case concerns the company’s alleged illegal off-label marketing of multiple drugs and related claimed Medicare/Medicaid fraud, according to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

As part of the settlement of the criminal probe, Pfizer will pay a $1.3 billion fine—described by the Wall Street Journal as the largest ever in a criminal case—and a Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co., will plead guilty to a felony charge of misbranding a pharmaceutical. It is also the largest-ever settlement of a health care fraud claim, reports the Washington Post.

The settlement resolves allegations that the company marketed various drugs, including its antipsychotic Geodon and antibiotic Zyvox, for purposes not included in the label approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to PR Newswire press releases about the Geodon and Zyvox qui tam cases, Pfizer agreed to record $300 million and $100 million settlements of these whistle-blower claims.

Kenney Egan McCafferty & Young represented a Harrisburg, Penn., psychiatrist, Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, in the Geodon case. The Philadelphia-based Sheller law firm represented Ronald Rainero. a former New Jersey sales manager for the drug company, in the Zyvox case. They were filed, respectively, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Massachusetts.

Pfizer will pay an additional $33 million to settle allegations related to claimed improper drug marketing practices with 42 states and the District of Columbia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pfizer denies all of the civil allegations, except “certain improper actions” related to Zyvox marketing, reports Bloomberg.

Additional details about the settlement and a link to a DOJ press release are provided in a Blog of Legal Times post.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Pfizer Whistleblower’s $51.5M Payday Could Spark More Qui Tam Suits”

New York Times: “Document Details Plan to Promote Costly Drug”

Updated at 4 p.m. to link to Blog of Legal Times post and related New York Times article and at 7:15 p.m. to link to subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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