Neurontin Case to be Settled by Pfizer

In April of 2014, U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer agreed to a settlement of $190 million dollars to end a lawsuit that charged them with a variety of violations of federal law concerning the drug Neurontin. The company will also pay interest on the amount, while denying any wrongdoing. The settlement ends a 12-year legal battle in the New Jersey court.

Neurontin

Neurontin, generic name gabapentin, is a popular drug used to treat seizures and some types of pain conditions. It is used to treat epilepsy and an anticonvulsant, affecting the chemical transmission of messages to the nerves. Neurontin is sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat these conditions. It is also sometimes used for unrelated conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved the drug in 1994 to control seizures. Later, it was also approved for use for the relief of neuropathy pain from shingles. However, it is illegal for pharmaceutical manufacturers to promote their drugs for uses not approved by the FDA, an accusation also alleged by the lawsuit.

The Charges

The lawsuit charges Pfizer with willfully delaying the entry of the generic version of the drug Neurontin to the market. The lawsuit also charges that the company promoted the sale and prescribing of Neurontin for a number of unapproved uses, as well as for filing and maintaining several sham patent lawsuits. Their actions put them in direct violation of antitrust laws, making them vulnerable to monopoly and anti-competitive conduct charges, which can be shown by either direct or indirect evidence. The suit began in 2002 charging Pfizer with carrying on a comprehensive scheme to monopolize the market for the drug. Neurontin sales reached $2.3 billion annually in 2013.

The Settlement

Pfizer has admitted no wrongdoing in the case and continues to contend that the settlement of the lawsuit only reflects the company’s commitment to concentrating on the needs of the patients and providers that depend on their company to continue its efforts to produce effective medications to treat disease and relieve pain. However, the company’s actions caused patients who used Neurontin over the past decade to pay inflated prices for the drug. The company may be the target of additional lawsuits regarding the overcharging of these patients.

Reference:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/usa-antitrust-pfizer-idUSL2N0ND1EK20140421