Massachusetts Dist. Judge Saris rules for Kaiser in unfair competition trial against Pfizer, orders $95.3 million in restitution

by Ben Vernia | November 4th, 2010

On November 3, District Judge Patty B. Saris in Boston issued 146-page findings and conclusions in the health insurer Kaiser’s trial of Pfizer for fraudulently promoting Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, for off-label treatment of a variety of conditions. In March, a jury had found Pfizer liable under RICO for single damages of approximately $47 million (which, when trebled, totaled $142 million).

Judge Saris’s ruling comes after a 5-week bench trial on Kaiser’s claims that the company violated California’s unfair competition law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code ยง 17200 (UCL). She observed in the introduction to her lengthy opinion:

Remarkably, Pfizer did not offer live testimony from any officer or employee, nor was any Pfizer representative present during the trial.

She held that Kaiser had established Pfizer’s fraudulent marketing of Neurontin through material misrepresentations in advertisement, articles and direct communications to Kaiser, and by showcasing positive data for the off-label uses while suppressing negative results.

In total, Judge Saris awarded Kaiser approximately $95.3 million in restitution.

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