Pfizer slapped with Medicaid fraud verdict

Wisconsin's AG scored a $153 million victory in court against Pfizer (via Pharmacia, which it acquired in 2003). A jury ruled that the company repeatedly committed Medicaid fraud, purposely overcharging the state for prescription drugs. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen was so stoked about the win that he's now anticipating settlements with 32 other drugmakers it has sued for similar reasons.

Pfizer, however, plans to appeal the ruling. "We are weighing all our options on how to best respond to this verdict," spokesman Chris Loder told the Associated Press, denying the company violated any laws or rules. One of those options could be a settlement; Van Hollen said he's willing to accept less money to drop the suit if that means the state will get the smaller sum sooner.

As the Associated Press reports, the litigation revealed various scenarios under which wholesale prices were inflated so providers could get reimbursed at a rate higher than their costs for the drug. For example, the cancer drug Adriamycin was sold for as little as $33.43, but Pharmacia listed the wholesale price at $241.36 so cancer docs would have a financial incentive to use the drug--and pocket the spread. In some cases, the difference went back to the drugmaker via chargebacks, Van Hollen told the AP.

- read the AP story