Pfizer, Inc. faces lawsuit after alleged deceptive marketing
Former employee says company misled doctors
In February 2004, a former official of drug manufacturer Pfizer Inc. filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing Pfizer of illegally boosting sales of its cholesterol drug Lipitor through misleading educational programs for doctors. The former official, Dr. Jesse Polansky, alleged the educational materials were part of a strategic campaign to persuade thousands of doctors to prescribe Lipitor for millions of patients who didn’t need it.
While the lawsuit was filed in February 2004, it was immediately sealed to allow prosecutors to decide if they wanted to intervene. In August 2007, the government said it wouldn’t intervene, and the seal was lifted.
The government’s decision not to intervene could indicate that prosecutors are skeptical about the merits of the case.
Dr. Polansky was Pfizer’s former director of outcomes management strategies, and served from 2001 to 2003. His job responsibilities included reviewing some marketing materials for Lipitor and other Pfizer products, and Polansky claims he was fired after complaining about potentially deceptive marketing. The lawsuit seeks compensation for Polansky under federal whistleblower law.
Lipitor is a cholesterol treatment drug known as a statin, and is the world’s biggest-selling drug according to an international pharmaceutical industry consulting and data services company.
Source: David Armstrong, ?Pfizer is sued over Lipitor Marketing,? Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2007