Brought by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Hospitals, a lawsuit judgment of $142.1 million was entered against Pfizer for the charge of illegal advertising of the drug Neurontin.
Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, was originally intended as an anticonvulsant to help control epileptic seizures. Kaiser claimed that it paid $90 million for the drug because it was also marketed as effective for at least 11 other conditions, including attention deficit disorder (ADD), drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures, restless leg syndrome (RLS) and trigeminal neuralgia. It was also said to be effective for bipolar disorder, migraines and other psychological/neurological diagnoses, but the drug allegedly performed poorly for these conditions. It is not illegal for physicians to prescribe medicines to patients for off-label use.
After a trial that lasted one month, and deliberations that took two days, a United States District Court jury in Boston awarded the plaintiffs $47.36 million. The claim alleged that Pfizer also violated a federal crime – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) – so the monetary award is tripled automatically.
Neurontin has been on the market since 1983. It was FDA approved in 1994. In 2008, however, the FDA required that neurontin medicine bottles contain a label warning consumers that taking it might increase the risk of suicidal ideations. If the decision is upheld, Kaiser receives the $142 million; however, Phizer earned $387 million in 2008 from Neurontin alone. Total Neurontin sales are estimated at around $2.7 billion.
This isn’t the first lawsuit Pfizer faced regarding Neurontin, either. The first one came in 2004 when a woman using the drug committed suicide. The case was dropped before it reached court. The Boston decision also won’t be the last one the drug company is up against. An estimated 1,200 other lawsuits are pending against the drug manufacturer. The court is working to lump many of the cases together to save time and money. The other lawsuits are scheduled for hearings beginning next week.
Many of the outstanding lawsuits are from individuals claiming that they suffered from an increase in thoughts about committing suicide while on the drug. Plaintiffs usually ask for monetary rewards to help them recoup some of their financial loss due to medical costs, loss of work and wages and their pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has experienced health complications or illness while using Neurontin or related drugs, contact Newsome Law Firm and fill out a case evaluation form today. Our team of attorneys has experience specific to complications associated with prescription medication. Not only can they give you the legal guidance you need, they can help you get the compensation you deserve.