Wyeth Pharmaceutical to
pay $491M, Washington state will receive $261K
SEATTLE — Attorney General
Bob Ferguson announced today that Washington has joined with other states and
the federal government in
a $491 million settlement against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., a
pharmaceutical company acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2009.
In 1999, the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) approved Rapamune, an immunosuppressant drug that
prevents the body from rejecting a transplanted organ, for kidney patients. The
Attorneys General alleged that Wyeth violated the federal False Claims Act,
from 1998 through 2009, by promoting Rapamune for other, unapproved uses.
Unapproved use included Rapamune
for non-kidney organ transplants. Attorneys General asserted that Wyeth also
pushed Rapamune treatment for kidney transplant patients who already used
another immunosuppressant drug. This conduct resulted in false claims to
government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
“Companies must comply with
the FDA’s drug approval process,” said Ferguson. “This ensures their products
are marketed for uses proven safe and effective. If a company chooses to put
financial gain ahead of patient health, we will hold them accountable.”
Wyeth agreed to pay the
states and the federal government a total of $491 million to resolve its
criminal and civil liability from unlawful marketing of Rapamune.
Wyeth will pay $257 million
in civil damages and penalties for unapproved marketing of Rapamune. Of this
amount, $197 million will be returned to other federal health care programs
affected by Wyeth’s conduct. The remaining $60 million will go to state
Medicaid programs, which is funded jointly by the states and the federal
government. Washington state will receive $260,917 to be used for Medicaid services
and to combat Medicaid fraud.
Additionally, Wyeth pled
guilty in federal court in Oklahoma to violations of the U.S. Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act, and agreed to pay $234 million in criminal fines and forfeitures.
In late 2009, Pfizer Inc.
acquired Wyeth. The conduct for which Wyeth pled guilty occurred prior to Pfizer’s
acquisition of Wyeth. Pfizer cooperated fully with the federal government
and the states in the investigation.
Actions were filed in the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Western District of Oklahoma under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.
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Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of
Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing
legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney
General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against
fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our
veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Dep. Communications Director, (206) 641-1335