State gets slice of $491 million settlement

Connecticut will receive more than $400,000 from Pfizer Inc. as part of a $491 million national settlement over illegal marketing of the transplant drug Rapamune, Attorney General George Jepsen announced today.

Pfizer, which has major research laboratories in Groton, inherited the illegal-marketing charge after acquiring Wyeth Pharmaceuticals four years ago for $67 billion. Federal authorities said their investigation into Wyeth’s marketing tactics began in 2006, while Pfizer said it did not become aware of the probe until its acquisition of the company became final in October 2009.

Wyeth pleaded guilty to misbranding Rapamune, approved for kidney transplants, and will pay a $157.5 million fine, forfeit assets of $76 million and pay about $257 million to resolve civil litigation. According to a federal False Claims Act filing, 90 percent of Rapamune’s estimated $200 million in annual sales at its height were the result of off-label uses of the drug generated by over-aggressive marketing.

“This conduct not only potentially puts critical patients at risk, we also believe it constituted a fraudulent claim against our Medicaid program,” said Jepsen in a statement.

The state will get $297,520 for its Medical Assistance Program and another $127,778 for prescription drug programs administered by the Department of Social Services.


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