Nevada to get $2.5 million as part of Pfizer settlement


CARSON CITY -- Drug manufacturing giant Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay Nevada $2.55 million Wednesday as part of a record $2.3 billion national settlement to settle charges it gave kickbacks to doctors and promoted drugs for uses for which they were not approved.

The company will pay $1 billion nationally to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and various federal health care programs for harm suffered as the result of its conduct.

Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn, will pay $1.3 billion for the illegal marketing and promotion of Bextra, pulled from the market in 2005, and other drugs.

The companies were charged with engaging in unlawful marketing to promote drugs for uses that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved.

Besides Bextra, the companies were charged with promoting an anti-psychotic drug, Geodon, for conditions such as autism, depression and attention deficit disorder when the drug was not approved for such uses.

In addition, they were charged with selling pain medication Lyrica for unapproved conditions and making false representations about the safety and efficacy of Zyvox, an antibiotic approved to treat drug-resistant infections.

Pfizer also was alleged to have paid illegal kickbacks to health care professionals to induce them to prescribe these four drugs as well as Aricept, Celebrex, Lipitor, Norvasc, Relpax, Viagra, Zithromax and Zoloft.

The company was charged with paying doctors and other health care professionals money and providing them free travel, meals and entertainment.

Patients who used the drugs also have filed actions against Pfizer.

"The federal government and the states will continue to monitor the marketing practices of drug companies to ensure the consumer is protected against misinformation concerning prescription drugs," Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said. "This misinformation is not only unethical, but could be dangerous for patients taking these drugs."

The National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the investigations and the settlement negotiations. Nevada's Medicaid Fraud Unit was not part of the investigation.

Earlier Wednesday in a separate settlement, Masto said the state would receive $557,000 over Pfizer's misuse of Geodon.

Pfizer also agreed to post on its Web sites the names of physicians who receive payments from the company through 2014.

In addition, it will give samples of Geodon only to health care providers who treat patients with the symptoms for which the drug was approved by the FDA.

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

 

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