Pfizer Inc. and Warner-Lambert Co. LLC have agreed to pay $325 million in settlement of a lawsuit brought by a class of third-party payers. It was alleged that the drug Neurontin had been fraudulently marketed by Pfizer and Warner-Lambert. All of the claims brought by class members arising out of the sale and marketing of Neurontin will be resolved. The Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of the settlement came just more than a month after Pfizer agreed to settle the remaining claims for attorneys’ fees in Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.’s suit against the drug manufacturer in the multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The class Plaintiffs, which include Harden Manufacturing Corp., Louisiana Blue Cross/Blue Shield and others, were ready to bring the litigation to an end. The members of the class Plaintiffs’ steering committee (PSC) wrote in a memorandum in support of the settlement:
This settlement, which provides significant and long-awaited benefits to class members, exceeds the standard for preliminary approval of a class action settlement.
The settlement came less than a month after Pfizer agreed to settle another suit in the MDL. Pfizer agreed in that settlement to pay Kaiser, a health maintenance organization, an undisclosed amount of attorneys’ fees. Since 2004, payers of Neurontin have accused the Defendants in several suits of fraudulently marketing the drug and causing them economic harm. Those suits were ultimately centralized before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts for MDL proceedings.
In the newly settled suit, class Plaintiffs alleged a fraudulent scheme to market and sell Neurontin for a variety of uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The defendants sought to market the drug for several off-label uses in a variety of ways, including through false or misleading statements to physicians, according to the suit. The third-party payers involved in the action include insurance companies, health care benefit providers, union health and welfare plans and others. The class Plaintiffs have sought preliminary approval of the settlement and certification of the class for settlement purposes. They have asked for date for a final approval hearing.
The class Plaintiffs are represented by the following lawyers: Thomas M. Sobol of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro; Thomas Greene; Elizabeth J. Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; Don Barrett of Barrett Law Office; Daniel Becnel Jr. of the Law Offices of Daniel Becnel Jr.; and James Dugan of Dugan & Browne. They did a very good job in this case.
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