Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that he and 33 other attorneys general reached a $42.9 million consent judgment with Pfizer, Inc., to resolve allegations that the Company unlawfully promoted its drugs, Zyvox® and Lyrica®. Under the settlement, Rhode Island will receive $647,722.
With today's announcement, the Office of Attorney General has reached settlements with major pharmaceutical companies for unfair and deceptive practices in promotion and advertising of drugs worth approximately $5.7 million in 2012, which is deposited in the state's General Fund.
In addition, the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud & Patient Abuse Unit has recovered more than $9.5 million from investigations and settlements to Rhode Island's state/federal Medicaid program paid by pharmaceutical companies.
"Coupled with other recently announced drug settlement cases, the Office has recovered close to $15 million for the State of Rhode Island and its taxpayers," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Despite these significant settlements, pharmaceutical companies continue to engage in deceptive practices to benefit their bottom line. So long as big pharma insists on operating in this manner, we will continue to investigate and prosecute companies that break the rules and hold them financially accountable for their actions."
In the settlement, the states allege that Pfizer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in its promotion of Zyvox® by making misleading and unsubstantiated superiority claims that broadened the indications for Zyvox®, an antibacterial agent approved to treat certain types of infections, including among other approved indications, nosocomial pneumonia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA") and complicated skin and skin structure infections due to MRSA. Moreover, the settlement alleges that Pfizer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in promoting Lyrica® for off-label uses.
As part of the consent judgment, Pfizer agreed to reform how it markets and promotes Zyvox® and Lyrica®.
"Patients and doctors must be able to trust the information provided by drug companies," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Misleading claims put patient lives in jeopardy, and pharmaceutical corporations' illegal promotion of drugs for off-label uses will not be tolerated."