NEW YORK Health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas alleged that drug maker Pfizer marketed its drugs for uses not approved by the government and illegally gave healthcare providers kickbacks to promote them in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, according to published reports.
The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that the health insurer seeks unspecified monetary damages, alleging that Pfizer promoted the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra (valdecoxib), the psychiatric drug Geodon (ziprasidone) and the epilepsy drug Lyrica (pregabalin) for off-label uses to healthcare providers.
The Food and Drug Administration regulations forbid drug companies from promoting drugs to healthcare providers or consumers for uses or dosages the agency has not approved. Last month, two subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson plead guilty to charges of promoting the epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) for off-label uses and were made to pay more than $81 million. A month earlier, Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca was made to pay $520 million to settle allegations that it promoted the antipsychotic drug Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) for off-label uses ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to insomnia.
Pfizer denied Blue Cross Blue Shield’s allegations in a statement provided to the Dallas newspaper.