The drug maker Pfizer agreed to pay $491 million to settle criminal and civil charges over the illegal marketing of the kidney-transplant drug Rapamune, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.
The recent case centers on the practices of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which Pfizer acquired in 2009.
Rapamune, which prevents the body’s immune system from rejecting a transplanted organ, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999 for use in patients receiving a kidney transplant. However, federal officials said Wyeth aggressively promoted the drug for use in patients receiving other organ transplants, even offering financial incentives to its sales force to do so.Accusations of Wyeth’s practices became public in 2010 after a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by two former employees was unsealed.After lawmakers announced a Congressional inquiry, the Justice Department opted to join the lawsuit. The settlement announced Tuesday, which also resolves a second, similar whistle-blower suit, includes a criminal fine and forfeiture of $233.5 million, and a civil settlement of $257.4 million with the federal government, all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
the spate of pharmaceutical settlements in recent years had blunted reaction to what he said were shameful practices. 'Everybody’s been asking me why this case is different than any other,' he said. 'We used to trust these companies. You can’t trust these companies anymore.'
'Pfizer was not a subject or target of this matter, and cooperated fully with the government from the time it learned of this investigation in October 2009,' Chris Loder, a Pfizer spokesman,...