Neurontin case dropped after mystery donation

Mystery donor to the rescue. The first Neurontin trial is kaput, thanks to some secret moneybags who set up a trust for the daughter of suicide victim Susan Bulger. The Bulger family's attorney, Mark Lanier, dropped their suit yesterday after said donor stepped up. "It was the best thing for the family," a family spokesman told Bloomberg.

The Bulger case was the first of some 1,200 over Neurontin to hit court. The plaintiffs had alleged that Pfizer promoted the epilepsy drug for unapproved uses and, most importantly, failed to warn of an increased risk of suicide until FDA forced it to. The case was complicated--some would say weakened--by the fact that Bulger had attempted suicide before. Nonetheless, it was closely watched as a bellwether of future Neurontin trials.

There was rejoicing at Pfizer after Lanier dropped the suit, with CEO Jeff Kindler telling Bloomberg, "We are pleased to have been vindicated in this case." The company maintains that Neurontin is safe, and reminds us that the off-label shenanigans that prompted a $400 million-plus settlement with the Justice Department happened before Pfizer took over Neurontin in its purchase of Warner-Lambert.

Of course, there are plenty of lawsuits left to try, and because the Bulger case was dropped before a verdict, all legal eyes will simply move on to the next trial. Another Boston-based trial is scheduled for next spring, while a case in Tennessee may hit court sooner than that, Lanier told the news service. Stay tuned.

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