Pfizer, the largest drug manufacturer in the world, will pay $190 million to end class action litigation alleging that the company worked to postpone the generic versions of the epilepsy medication Neurontin entry into the market, a violation of federal antitrust laws.
According to Bloomberg, the class action was filed 12 years ago and claimed that Pfizer stalled competition by “improperly listing certain patents with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, engaging in illegal promotion and sales of Neurontin for unapproved uses, filing and maintaining sham litigations with respect to certain patents, and making misrepresentations to the patent courts.” Claimants say these actions forced purchasers to pay inflated prices for Neurontin.
Pfizer agreed to pay $190 million to settle, plus interest, though Pfizer denied the claims and said that how it handled the marketing of Neurontin was “reasonable and based upon independent, legitimate business and economic justifications,” a court filing said.
In an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, Pfizer spokesperson Steven Danehy said, “The resolution of this litigation reflects a desire by the company to concentrate on its business and the needs of patients and prescribers, while also reducing the cost and distraction of prolonged litigation.”
U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg must approve the settlement, which will cover “All persons or entities in the United States that purchased Neurontin from Pfizer at any time during the period of December 11, 2002 through August 31, 2008 and who have purchased generic gabapentin.” The lawsuit was first filed in 2002 and certified as a class action case in January 2011. A court filing said that the company has been litigating for 12 years and has worked extensively with a mediator to resolve the matter. Meijer Distribution Inc., Meijer Inc., and Louisiana Wholesale Drug Company Inc., represented the members of the class action. The case is In re Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, 02-cv-1390, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark)
In 2004, Pfizer plead guilty to criminal charges regarding the illegal marketing of Neurontin, and agreed to pay state and federal governments $430 million to resolve those charges following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Pfizer acquired Neurontin with the acquisition of Warner Lambert Corp in 2000. According to a Justice Department news release, the company aggressively marketed Neurontin as a treatment for a wide range of conditions for which the drug was not approved, including “ for the treatment of bipolar mental disorder, various pain disorders, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, a degenerative nerve disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), attention deficit disorder, migraine, drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures, restless leg syndrome, and as a first-line monotherapy treatment for epilepsy (using Neurontin alone, rather than in addition to another drug).” The Justice Department said that Neurontin was being promoted as a treatment for certain conditions which scientific studies had proven it was ineffective for treating.
Bloomberg News – Pfizer Agrees to Pay $190 Million to Settle Neurontin Case