Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle allegations that it marketed a drug for conditions for which it wasn't approved. The Drug in question is Detrol, which is approved for the treatment of overactive bladder.
The settlement, which came last Friday, is the most recent in a string of 10 whistleblower suits going back to 2003. Pfizer reportedly agreed to pay $2.3 billion in September 2009 to settle civil claims and criminal charges, though the rest of the cases were dismissed. The $2.3 million billion settlement was apparently related to illegal marketing of Lipitor, Viagra and 11 other drugs.
Sources said the drug had only been approved for the treatment of frequent urination, bladder leaks, and sudden urination urges. Pfizer apparently marketed the drug to treat enlarged prostate and related conditions, including bladder obstruction.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Boston was please that Pfizer decided to settle the case and sees the settlement as a crackdown on compliance with drug marketing laws. But Pfizer said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, but merely a means of avoiding the unwanted costs and distraction of litigation.
Sources said $2.6 million of the $14.5 million penalty will go to state Medicaid programs and $11.8 million will go to the federal government. The whistleblowers who brought the allegation of illegal marketing activity will be receiving $3.2 million from the federal government's share. Those awards come to the whistleblowers under provisions of the False Claims Act.
Source: Washington Post, "Pfizer agrees to pay $14.5M to settle latest government charges of illegal drug marketing," October 21, 2011.