Pfizer racks up $600M-plus in Wyeth-related legal settlements

Pfizer ($PFE) has racked up a trifecta of legal deals, from a $55 million Protonix settlement with the feds to a $491 million Rapamune marketing deal that involves a misdemeanor guilty plea. Sandwiched in the middle: A $67.5 million deal to wrap up a class-action lawsuit filed by former Wyeth shareholders, who claimed they were misled about the risks of its antidepressant Pristiq.

All three of the deals stem from its Wyeth unit's legal woes. Acquired by Pfizer in a 2009 megamerger, Wyeth faced federal probes of its Rapamune and Protonix marketing. Now, Pfizer says it plans to plead guilty to a misbranding offense, as part of a $491 million Rapamune settlement with the Justice Department and individual whistleblowers.

The feds have been investigating allegations that Wyeth pushed the transplant drug for unapproved uses and paid kickbacks to doctors to pump up prescription rates. As Dow Jones reports, Pfizer says it will pay about $257 million to wrap up civil allegations, along with $234 million in criminal penalties.

The Wyeth unit also agreed to pay $55 million to wrap up a probe of its Protonix marketing. And Pfizer says it's working toward a resolution in the Justice Department's civil probe of Wyeth's pricing practices for Protonix, the news service reports.

Meanwhile, Pfizer agreed to pay $67.5 million in a class-action settlement with Wyeth shareholders. The lawsuit stemmed from Wyeth's 2007 announcement that FDA wouldn't approve the company's Pristiq to treat hot flashes without more information about its safety. The company's stock plummeted on the news. The investors sued, saying Wyeth hadn't been forthcoming about Pristiq's side effects. The deal followed almost 6 months of mediation, Reuters says; Pfizer denied wrongdoing in the settlement.

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