BCBS names Pfizer managers in kickback suit

Blue Cross Blue Shield has slapped Pfizer with a lawsuit over its marketing of three drugs, saying the company pushed off-label uses of the drugs and used "kickbacks" to persuade doctors to prescribe them. Given that the allegations resemble those in that $2.3 billion settlement between the drugmaker and the U.S. Justice Department, that's not totally surprising.

But as BNet Pharma points out, what is surprising is the fact that BCBS (of Texas, Illinois, New Mexico and Oklahoma, by the way) didn't just name the company in its suit. It also sued four Pfizer managers and ex-managers personally. And those Pfizerites aren't company higher-ups, either. One was a district sales manager who allegedly prepared "misleading" sales materials.

According to the suit, the drugmaker not only handed out those "misleading" materials on off-label uses, but sent doctors on Caribbean junkets and paid them $2,000 honoraria in return for their listening to lectures about Bextra. More than 5,000 healthcare professionals were entertained at meetings in Bahamas, Virgin Islands and across the U.S., the suit alleges.

Pfizer is denying the allegations, saying, "This is a case of an insurance company seeking its money back for medicines that physicians prescribed appropriately using their best medical judgments," a spokesman said in a statement (as quoted by the Dallas Morning News).

- read the DMN story
- get more from BNet Pharma
- see the Austin Business Journal article

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