Neurologist sues Pfizer over Neurontin

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Here's a new twist—from a press release:


    Boston, MA, May 18, 2006 - This week, David Longmire, M.D., an Alabama neurologist and specialist in neuropathic pain evaluation and management, filed a lawsuit against Warner-Lambert, Inc. and its parent company, Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) for fraudulent misrepresentation, concealment and deceit. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Alabama, by co-counsel Paul W. Shaw, Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP, Robert A. Griffith, Gargiulo/Rudnick LLP and Michael L. Weathers, Attorney at Law.


    This lawsuit arises out of a May 13, 2004 prosecution in which Warner-Lambert and its Parke-Davis division, acquired by Pfizer in 2000, pled guilty to charges that it criminally violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 331 et seq. associated with its marketing and sales practices for an epilepsy drug known as Neurontin.


    Related to the 2004 case, Dr. Longmire's lawsuit charges that Warner-Lambert defrauded him by exploiting his medical expertise and reputation and luring him to unwittingly participate in a deceptive scheme to market Neurontin for certain unapproved uses, commonly known as "off-label" uses. These uses included post-herpetic neuralgia, painful diabetic neuralgia, anxiety disorder, social phobias, and bipolar disorder. As a result of the fraud, Dr. Longmire's name has been included in multi-district litigation lawsuits, thereby impugning his reputation among his colleagues and peers and calling his integrity into question.


    According to the plaintiff's attorneys, Warner-Lambert tried to avoid the federal statutes and regulations that make it illegal for a manufacturer to promote off-label product usage by engaging in a number of fraudulent marketing schemes to promote the sale and use of Neurontin for off-label conditions. One of Warner-Lambert's fraudulent schemes involved using physicians to promote the off-label use of Neurontin, because off-label promotional prohibitions do not apply to physicians, who can treat a medical condition with any prescription drug that would benefit the patient. Part of this fraudulent and deceptive scheme targeted neurologists and other pain specialists throughout the USA,

    including Dr. Longmire, to leverage their experience with the use of Neurontin for pain. These physicians were falsely told that Warner-Lambert intended to apply to the FDA for approval for the expanded use of Neurontin in the treatment of neuropathic pain.


    Warner-Lambert provided study grants, solicited the targeted physicians to publish articles supporting the expanded use of Neurontin to reduce pain, and, through seemingly independent medical education companies, invited these physicians to speak at so-called consultants' meetings and educational events. Warner-Lambert represented that it was gathering the studies and articles as part of its effort to obtain clinical data to support an FDA application for approval of Neurontin as a treatment for certain types of neuropathic pain.


    Unknown to the targeted physicians, including Dr. Longmire, Warner-Lambert had little or no intention of actually presenting either the results of the studies or the publications to the FDA. Also unknown to the targeted physicians the seemingly independent medical education companies were actually controlled by Warner-Lambert to further this scheme.


    For a copy of the complaint, please contact: Lisa Murray at 617-856-8509 or lmurray@brownrudnick.com.



I haven't heard (and don't expect to) the other side of the story, but felt this was worth passing along. Interesting, eh?

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