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Former Exec Sues Pfizer Over Lipitor Marketing

Former Exec Sues Pfizer Over Lipitor Marketing: Whistleblower Suit Alleges Promotion For unapproved uses [The Day, New London, Conn.]

From Day, The (New London, CT) (February 12, 2010)

Feb. 12--Pfizer Inc., which paid out a record $2.3 billion in fines for off-label marketing of various drugs last year, faces another whistleblower suit, potentially involving even more money since it alleges the illegal promotion of Lipitor, the best-selling medicine in the world.

The lawsuit, filed by former Pfizer executive Jesse Polansky of Maryland, was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York. Among its most serious claims is that Pfizer has engaged for more than seven years in a "deliberately false and misleading campaign" to push the cholesterol-fighting drug for use in millions of patients for whom Lipitor was not recommended.

"Thousands of physicians have prescribed Lipitor to millions of patients for whom drug therapy is not recommended, and for whom the medication could be dangerous," the suit said. "Millions of those improper prescriptions were ultimately paid for by various government healthcare plans."

Polansky filed a similar suit six years ago, but federal authorities at the time decided not to intervene. The new suit includes updated information about the number of patients potentially involved.

According to the lawsuit, as many as 14.6 million people considered at "moderate risk" of a heart attack were targeted by Pfizer for Lipitor therapy whose benefits were suspect.

"Pfizer realized that by off-label marketing to the balance of 'moderate risk' patients, it could increase its revenues by billions of dollars," the suit says.

Pfizer has previously denied all of the allegations.

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Posted: February 2010