State Consumer Groups Sue Pfizer for Off-Label Marketing of Neurontin
Three California-based consumer groups yesterday filed suit against Pfizer and its Parke-Davis subsidiary, alleging that the company "circumvent[ed]" federal law by promoting "off-label" uses for its epilepsy treatment Neurontin, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the California Public Interest Research Group, the Congress of California Seniors and USAction, alleges that in 1995 Parke-Davis, then owned by Warner-Lambert, launched a campaign that included "illegal cash kickbacks to physicians" and other methods to promote Neurontin for at least 13 conditions other than epilepsy, including migraines and bipolar disorder. The FDA has approved Neurontin only to treat epilepsy. Pfizer acquired the rights to Neurontin when it purchased Warner-Lambert and its Parke-Davis unit in 2000 (AP/Los Angeles Times, 2/5). Neurontin is already the focus of an investigation by 47 states and the District of Columbia into whether Parke-Davis made illegal payments to Medicaid providers to prescribe the epilepsy drug, leading to a dramatic increase in Medicaid prescriptions for unapproved medical conditions (American Health Line, 10/18/02). A Pfizer spokesperson declined to comment on the new lawsuit (AP/Los Angeles Times, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.