Pfizer settles remaining qui tam suit for $14.5 million

by Ben Vernia | October 24th, 2011

On October 21, the Department of Justice announced that Pfizer Inc. had agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a qui tam whistleblower’s allegations that it engaged in off-label marketing of its bladder drug, Detrol:

American pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. has agreed to pay $14.5 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations related to its marketing of the drug Detrol, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement resolves the last of a group of 10 qui tam, or whistleblower, suits that were filed in the District of Massachusetts and two other districts, beginning in 2003. The other nine suits were settled or dismissed in 2009 as part of the government’s global resolution with Pfizer, under which the company agreed to pay $2.3 billion dollars to resolve civil claims and criminal charges regarding multiple drugs.

The current settlement addresses allegations that Pfizer illegally marketed Detrol, a drug for the treatment of overactive bladder, for use in male patients suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy and several allied conditions, notably lower urinary tract symptoms and bladder outlet obstruction – all uses for which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved the drug as safe and effective. Under the terms of the settlement, the $14.5 million recovery will be divided between the United States and participating state Medicaid programs, with $11,878,846 going to the federal government and $2,621,154 going to state Medicaid programs. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, whistleblowers will receive a $3,282,019 share of the federal recovery.

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The case is U.S. ex rel. Wetherholt and Drimer v. Pfizer, which the United States declined to intervene in and was independently litigated by the relators. The United States subsequently participated closely in efforts to resolve the case.

The relators’ share is 27.6% of the federal recovery (about midway between the statutory range of 25-30%).

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