A Lipitor lawsuit unsealed earlier this month in Massachusetts federal court accuses Pfizer Inc. of engaging in deceptive marketing to drive sales of the popular statin drug. The lawsuit, which was filed in accordance with the whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, was brought on behalf of the U.S. government by Health Support Awareness, Inc.
The Lipitor whistleblower lawsuit was originally filed in August 2013 in U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts. However, the False Claims Act – which allows private citizens or entities to sue companies believed to be defrauding the government – requires that such complaints remain sealed while the U.S. Justice Department investigates the charges they contain. The Lipitor complaint was unsealed on January 10th, after the government declined to intervene in the case.
The complaint accuses Pfizer of using a number of deceptive strategies to keep both demand for the drug and its price artificially high. For example, the lawsuit alleges that Pfizer paid a generic drug maker to delay the release of a generic version of Lipitor. The lawsuit also charges that Pfizer engaged in efforts to manipulate the medical community’s beliefs about “safe” cholesterol levels.
“Health groups, many of whom were supported in part by Pfizer, kept lowering the cholesterol targets in national guidelines, thereby causing millions more patients to believe they were good candidates for statin treatment,” the lawsuit claims. “In addition, clinical researchers, many of whom were supported financially by Pfizer, established a link between cholesterol levels and health consequences such as heart attacks.”
According to the lawsuit, these deceptive practices allegedly resulted in fraud against Medicare, Medicaid and others.
The whistleblower lawsuit is not the only legal headache that Pfizer currently faces over Lipitor. According to court documents, some 100 product liability claims are now pending across the country that allege an association between Lipitor and the development of new-onset Type 2 diabetes. Among other things, these claims accuse Pfizer of failing to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings regarding the link between Lipitor and diabetes. Plaintiffs further allege that new warnings regarding the risk of diabetes that were added to the Lipitor label in 2012 remain inadequate.
Individuals who may have developed diabetes due to their use of Lipitor could be eligible to file their own claim against Pfizer. To learn more about the process for filing a Lipitor lawsuit, please contact Bernstein Liebhard LLP at .