Class action suit filed against Pfizer

April 3, 2006

A group of seven drug plans has filed a class action lawsuit against Pfizer Inc., claiming the company used off-label promotion of atorvastatin (Lipitor) to boost sales. According to New York-based Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A., the securities litigation firm representing the group, the plaintiffs contend that Pfizer's physician and hospital marketing materials have misrepresented treatment protocols established by the National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III), and that the drug was approved by the FDA only for use in accordance with ATP III.

Class action suit filed against Pfizer

A group of seven drug plans has filed a class action lawsuit against Pfizer Inc., claiming the company used off-label promotion of atorvastatin (Lipitor) to boost sales. According to New York-based Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A., the securities litigation firm representing the group, the plaintiffs contend that Pfizer's physician and hospital marketing materials have misrepresented treatment protocols established by the National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III), and that the drug was approved by the FDA only for use in accordance with ATP III. In particular, they said that Pfizer promoted the drug for patients whose cholesterol levels fell between 130 to 160 mg/dl, a level for which only lifestyle changes are required, according to ATP III. In addition, the complaint notes that Pfizer employed independent third parties to promote the drug's off-label use and also fully funded organizations, such as Emerging Science of Lipid Management and the National Lipid Education Council, to offer physicians continuing medical education courses and to publish articles supporting Lipitor's off-label usages. The claim accuses the company of reaping billions of dollars in insurance payments to cover prescriptions for patients for whom Lipitor therapy was not recommended according to FDA-approved indications. The drug plans are seeking a court order to prevent Pfizer from continuing its alleged off-label marketing practices as well as compensatory and punitive damages. A Pfizer spokesman said there is absolutely no merit to the claims regarding the promotion of Lipitor and the company believes the allegations to be unfounded.

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