Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch announced that the State of Rhode Island will receive $25,000 as part of a nationwide consumer settlement with Warner-Lambert, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., in resolving deceptive marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin. The settlement of state consumer protections claims, totaling $38 million, was negotiated by Consumer Protection divisions of the Attorneys General in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Lynch said that another $240 million in criminal fines and $152 million in civil fines would be shared among state and federal Medicaid agencies as well as with the whistle-blower who reported the abuses surrounding Neurontin to authorities.
The consumer protection investigation focused on violations of state consumer protection laws that occurred when Warner-Lambert aggressively promoted Neurontin for several “off-label” indications—including various psychiatric disorders, back pain, and headache—even though scientific evidence supporting the use of the FDA-approved prescription drug for these indications was reportedly lacking.
“In the interest of boosting the sales of Neurontin, Warner-Lambert displayed a wanton and callous disregard for the health and safety of patients who might have received more appropriate medications if their doctors had been provided with accurate information,” Lynch said. “The terms of this settlement send a strong message that those involved in health-care fraud will pay a high price for their unlawful and deceptive practices.”
It is illegal for pharmaceutical manufacturers to promote the off-label use of their drugs, even though doctors are permitted to prescribe for such uses.
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