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Pfizer Pays a Record Amount to Settle Federal and State Fraud Investigations Into Illegal Off-Label Marketing Practices
Date:9/2/2009

and maintained on its payroll an army of more than 250 child psychiatrists nationwide." Kenney stated that, "Pfizer regularly paid generous speaking fees to these child psychiatrists to give what were basically promotional lectures about the benefits of Geodon to their peers, who were naturally also child psychiatrists, despite the fact the drug is not FDA-approved or medically indicated to treat children at all." According to Kenney, "the purpose and intent of paying so many child psychiatrists is clear -- to gain a foothold within the fastest growing market for antipsychotics -- children. The practice of expansive off-label use is dangerous, particularly in children because the drug has not been evaluated for its safety for the unique physiological make up of children."

According to Deming, even though it is illegal for drug makers to engage in off-label promotion, they find ways to do so because there is so much money to be made from the practice. Deming stated that "less than 5% of the United States population is diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, yet in 2008 Geodon surpassed the blockbuster benchmark of $1 billion in sales." Deming explained that "after drug makers obtain initial FDA approval for a specific use, they often don't bother with expensive testing that would allow them to request a label extension for other uses. They just market the drug off-label." According to Deming, "if Pfizer had limited its Geodon marketing to on-label uses, as required by law, Pfizer would never have achieved anywhere near the more than $1 billion in Geodon sales that occurred in 2008."

Pfizer's marketing campaign also emphasized what Pfizer alleged was Geodon's comparatively safe metabolic profile, urging doctors to switch patients on other allegedly more dangerous atypical antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Risperdal, to Geodon. According to Kenney, Pfizer's switching campaign "endangered patients by i
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SOURCE Kenney, Egan, McCafferty & Young
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