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Pfizer to pay $43 million, money goes to 33 states

Staff writer |
Colorado's Attorney General John Suthers announced that he and 32 other Attorneys General reached a $42.9 million consent judgment with Pfizer to resolve allegations that Pfizer unlawfully promoted its drugs.

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Under the settlement regarding Zyvox and Lyrica, Colorado will receive more than $1.125 million for future consumer protection efforts, said Mr. Suthers in his statement.

The Attorneys General allege that Pfizer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in its promotion of Zyvox by making misleading and unsubstantiated superiority claims that broadened the indications for Zyvox, an antibacterial agent approved to treat certain types of infections, including among other approved indications, nosocomial pneumonia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (also know as MRSA) and complicated skin and skin structure infections due to MRSA. The Attorneys General allege that Pfizer engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in promoting Lyrica for off-label uses.

"When it comes to something as important as people’s health, it is imperative that consumers receive accurate information. We cannot tolerate unsubstantiated claims about drug benefits," said Suthers.

Pfizer agreed to reform how it markets and promotes Zyvox and Lyrica and it shall not: make any misleading claims when comparing the efficacy or safety of Zyvox to vancomycin, promote any of its products for off-label uses, fail to design financial incentives that ensure that its marketing personnel are not motivated to engage in the improper marketing of Zyvox or Lyrica, or fail to notify its sales force promptly of any warning letter received from the FDA that affects sales representatives in the promotion of Pfizer products.

Lyrica was approved by the FDA for the treatment of several conditions in December, 2004, but contrary to the approved intended uses, Pfizer marketed it for another treatments. In addition, on July 20, 2005, the FDA sent a Warning Letter to Pfizer concerning a journal advertisement for Zyvox, claimed that the company's advertisement misbranded Zyvox.

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