PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island is set to receive $647,722 as part of a $42.9 million national settlement with drug maker Pfizer Inc. for the unlawful promotion of its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and 33 other attorneys general alleged that the drug maker engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices” in its promotion of Zyvox by making misleading and unsubstantiated claims that broadened the indication of the medicine’s effects. Zyvox is an antibacterial agent approved to treat certain types of infections.
The suit also alleged that Pfizer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices while promoting Lyrica, a drug used to control seizures, treat nerve pain and fibromyalgia.
Through a number of settlements with major pharmaceutical companies, the office of the attorney general has helped put a total of roughly $5.7 million into the state’s general fund in 2012 for deceptive practices related to promotion or advertising of drugs.
The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud & Patient Abuse Unit has also recovered more than $9.6 million from investigations and settlements for the Rhode Island 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 Kilmartin in prepared remarks. “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,” said Kilmartin.
As part of the consent judgement settlement, Pfizer has agreed to reform how it markets and promotes its Zyvox and Lyrica drugs.
“Patients and doctors must be able to trust the information provided by drug companies,” said Kilmartin. “Misleading claims put patient lives in jeopardy, and pharmaceutical corporations’ illegal promotion of drugs for off-label uses will not be tolerated.”
peter f. kilmartin