Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Federal government joins in suit against Pfizer, cracks down on off-label drug promotions

The US Justice Department Tuesday filed an intervention in a federal whistleblower lawsuit against drug maker Pfizer and subsidiary Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.  The Associated Press reports that the pharmaceutical giant marketed products off-label in violation of federal law, including promotion of a transplant drug for us by children an minorities that are at higher risk for serious side effects, including death.

The governments involvement in the case, said plaintiff's attorney Reuben Guttman, suggests that the case is meritorious.  "Unfortunately, we live in an age when life-and-death medical decisions are being influenced by marketing agendas," said Guttman, "And many times patients don't know it."

Last week, the New York Times reported that Forest Laboratories agreed to pay over $300 million settle a Justice Department claim that it had improperly marketed its drug Celexa to children.  And two weeks earlier, Botox maker Allergan paid $600 million to settle claims that it had improperly marketed the product as a headache remedy and as a treatment for cerebral palsy in children.

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