Pfizer Inc. has agreed to pay $14.5 million to the federal government, the District of Columbia, and 49 states to settle claims that the drug manufacturer not only improperly marketed its bladder control medication Detrol but also cheated Medicaid. The allegations were made by former sales representatives Marci Drimer and David Wetherholt, who filed their Massachusetts whistleblower lawsuit in Boston in 2006 on behalf of the US, 49 states, and the District of Columbia.
Wetherholt and Drimer contended that even though Detrol had only been approved for treating overactive bladders, the company violated federal regulations by promoting it for use that government agency hadn’t been approved, such as for treating impeded urine flow caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, lower urinary tract symptoms, and bladder outlet obstruction. The two men claimed using Detrol had no therapeutic benefits for some of these conditions.
In their whistleblower lawsuit, Drimer and Wetherholt accused Pfizer of purposely embarked on a path of “unlawful conduct” that it knew would cause pharmacists and physicians to submit thousands of claims that Medicaid didn’t cover. The two men contend that they were pushed out of their jobs by the drug maker after they complained about the marketing practices.
This type of pharmaceutical fraud involves the marketing of a medication for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration that results in a company doing so to get the government to subsidize a medication that it isn’t supposed to cover. Granted, it is not against the law to use medicines for off-label purposes. However, if these prescriptions are billed to Medicaid or Medicare then fraud is being committed.
Under the False Claims Act’s qui-tam provision, which allows for whistleblower awards of up to 30% of what the government recovers, in the wake of their case against Pfizer, Drimer and Wetherholt will get 27% of the federal government’s share of the $14.5 million. They will receive a percentage of the $2.62 million that she states are getting.
Even in settling, Pfizer continues to deny wrongdoing. The company said it chose to settle to avoid the costs that come with litigation.
Pfizer Settles Whistle-Blower Suit Over Detrol Marketing, Bloomberg, October 20, 2011
Pfizer Pays $14.5M To Settle Detrol Off-Label Suit, Pharmalot, October 20, 2011
Related Web Resources:
What is the False Claims Act & Why is it Important?,The False Claims Act Legal Center
More Blog Posts:
Whistleblower Lawsuit Accuses Southern Care of Charging Medicare While Fraudulently Enrolling Patients in Hospice Care, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 27, 2011
Massachusetts Whistleblower Lawsuits, Hospice Neglect, and Medicare Fraud, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 26, 2011
Pharmaceutical Fraud May Be Grounds for Filing a Massachusetts Whistleblower Lawsuit, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 23, 2011
Massachusetts Qui Tam Cases
A Boston injury lawyer experienced in handling Massachusetts whistleblower cases can help you bring your lawsuit against the entity that committed fraud against the state or the federal government. Contact our Boston whistleblower law firm today.