Government lawyers settle $2.3 billion Pfizer fraud lawsuit

Government lawyers with the Department of Justice announced a $2.3 billion settlement agreement with Pfizer in a health care fraud lawsuit. Pfizer, a major drug company, agrees to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.

Washington government attorneys settle lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturer, Pfizer Inc., recovering largest civil liabilities in U.S. history.

Washington, D.C.–Attorneys with the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a press release on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, announcing the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history was reached between federal lawyers and Pfizer, Inc. The American pharmaceutical manufacturer, Pfizer Inc., headquartered in New York City and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc., agreed to resolve allegations by the Department of Justice against the big drug maker. The allegations by government attorneys involved criminal and civil liabilities surrounding the recalled anti-inflammatory medication, Bextra. Pfizer will pay $2.3 billion for its fraudulent marketing practices which violated the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The pharmaceutical manufacturer, Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, a Pfizer subsidiary, agreed to plead guilty to felony violation of the federal act for misbranding Bextra and specifically marketing and promoting the medication for off-label uses. The term “off-label” use is defined as any use of a product not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) http://www.fda.gov. The drug company also promoted the sale of the popular anti-inflammatory medication, Bextra, for dosages and uses the FDA, refused to approve. The FDA, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) http://www.hhs.gov, responsible for protecting the public health and assuring the safety, security, and efficacy of drugs, medical devices, food, cosmetics, and radiation products, did not approve Bextra for the additional uses both drug companies marketed and promoted because of consumer health and safety concerns. The major U.S. drug company agreed to the following terms according to the DOJ’s website:

-Criminal fine $1.195 billion (largest criminal fine ever imposed in the U.S.)
-Pharmacia & Upjohn will forfeit $105 million as part of the criminal allegations of the health care fraud claim
-Pfizer agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve civil False Claims Act violations for illegally promoting four drugs.
-Pfizer agreed to cooperate with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services in a corporate integrity action

The landmark criminal and civil allegations by the federal government resolves various claims against the drug company. Pfizer illegally promoted and marketed the following medications which caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs: Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic medication. According to the DOJ’s press release, Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to entice and support prescriptions of the above medications and other drugs. The federal government will receive $668,514,830 of the civil settlement and state Medicaid will receive $331,485,170. This is the largest civil fraud settlement in U.S. history against a pharmaceutical company as indicated by the federal government.

Several U.S. Attorney’s offices, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) http://www.hhs.gov, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) http://www.fbi.gov, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) http://www.fda.gov, the Veterans’ Administration (VA) and multiple other federal agencies actively participated and worked tirelessly to bring the civil and criminal charges against Pfizer and it’s subsidiary. Drug related injuries can cause serious damages to innocent consumers and their families. If you or someone you love has been injured by a medication or drug prescribed to you which has not been approved by the FDA, you may have a claim. Contacting a Washington personal injury attorney specializing in drug related injury cases and reporting the corporate wrong doers to the appropriate government agency may help you recover.

Washington government attorney alerts for drug related injuries by legal news reporter Heather L. Ryan.

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About the Author Justice Seeker

Heather L. Ryan, R.N., C.L.N.C- Heather Ryan is a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant with 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Her expertise in reviewing medical records and assisting lawyers with the determination as to whether legal action should be taken provides an invaluable asset to the newsroom. Medical-malpractice, products liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation are some of the recent areas of litigation Ms. Ryan has focused her efforts on. A member of the Florida Justice Association, Heather maintains a long list of certifications and credentials to support her areas of expertise and stays up-to-date with her clinical knowledge working as an emergency room/trauma nurse, at a Level 1, Adult/Pediatric trauma and teaching institution in South Florida.