Pfizer defends Neurontin as trial winds down

Pfizer defended Neurontin against a $270 million fraud claim as a trial wound down in Boston yesterday. One lawyer told the court that Neurontin is "a good drug that, at one time, at least in some parts of the country, may have been marketed by some bad people."

It was the culmination of a month-long trial in federal court, during which Kaiser Foundation's health plan and hospitals claimed that Pfizer illegally promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses, Bloomberg reports. Kaiser alleged that it had been misled into using Neurontin for migraines, bipolar disorder and other maladies in addition to its approved indication, epilepsy.

Kaiser is the first insurer to go against Pfizer in court over Neurontin. As such, the trial is going to be closely watched by all the other third-party payers suing the company, seeking to recoup the money they spent on off-label uses of the drug.

Neurontin was developed by Warner-Lambert, which was bought by Pfizer in 2000. The U.S. Justice Department investigated Warner-Lambert's marketing practices, and in 2004, the Pfizer subsidiary pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $430 million to resolve the claims. 

- see the Bloomberg story