Pfizer to plunk down $190M to wrap up Neurontin class action


In the latest settlement of a Big Pharma-delays-generics case, Pfizer ($PFE) has agreed to pay $190 million to wrap up a class-action suit over its seizure drug Neurontin. More than a decade old, the lawsuit claimed that Pfizer did some fast tap-dancing to prolong its Neurontin monopoly.

A group of Neurontin purchasers initially filed antitrust claims in 2002, saying that Pfizer's efforts to bat away generic versions cost them many millions of dollars. Among the steps Pfizer allegedly took to protect Neurontin from competition were "sham" patent lawsuits, misrepresentations to the patent courts, and improperly filed patents with the FDA. Pfizer's off-label marketing also led to overspending on the drug, the plaintiffs claimed.

The class-action settlement comes several years after Pfizer agreed to pay $430 million to wrap up a U.S. Justice Department marketing probe. The company has also fought other marketing-related allegations, including one racketeering case that ended in a $142 million judgment. Pfizer lost a Supreme Court bid in December to overturn that verdict.

Pfizer admits no wrongdoing in the latest settlement. "The resolution of this litigation reflects a desire by the company to concentrate on its business and the needs of patients and prescribers, while also reducing the cost and distraction of prolonged litigation," Steven Danehy, a spokesman for Pfizer, said in a statement.

As Bloomberg points out, the plaintiffs won class-action status in January 2011, after fending off Pfizer's motion to dismiss the case in August 2009. The parties worked with a mediator before coming to the agreement, and the lawyers involved agree that the deal is fair. The attorneys themselves are set to collect one-third of the settlement.

- read the Bloomberg story

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