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Oregon DOC Gets Tiny Cut of $3.34 Million Pfizer Settlement

The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) was duped by Pfizer, Inc.’s misleading statements and studies used to market an antibiotic, according to the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ). As such, the ODOC received part of a $3.34 million settlement between the State of Oregon and the pharmaceutical giant – albeit a very small part.

Following a 2009 multi-state lawsuit and settlement involving several drugs, including Zyvox, an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia and bacterial skin infections, the Oregon DOJ launched an independent investigation into the marketing of Zyvox.

The investigation found that Pfizer used “unreliable and unsubstantiated claims” to market Zyvox as a superior choice over vancomycin, a cheaper generic antibiotic. Pfizer’s sales representatives distributed copies of flawed clinical studies to support the spurious marketing claims, according to the DOJ.

“Our investigation was aggressive, detailed, went places that the federal settlement didn’t and provided additional settlement to the state of Oregon,” said David Hart, a senior assistant attorney general who supervised the case.

Pfizer denied the allegations but agreed to pay $3.34 million to settle the two-year DOJ probe. “Pfizer is pleased to resolve this investigation and avoid the further time and cost of litigation,” said Pfizer senior vice president and associate general counsel Bradley Lerman. “Pfizer is committed to conducting its business with the highest degree of ethics and integrity and providing patients, physicians and the public with accurate, science-based information regarding our medicines.”

The settlement was announced on March 20, 2012, and an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was filed in Marion County Circuit Court. This was the largest, independently negotiated consumer drug settlement in Oregon’s history.

The ODOC’s cut of the settlement to reimburse the department for previous Zyvox purchases was a mere $7,280.11, with the bulk of the rest of the money going to the DOJ and to fund a Consumer Education and Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. Pfizer also agreed to “disclose payments made to authors of Zyvox studies, reports, and clinical guidelines...” and to submit historical clinical trial results for “Pfizer-sponsored trials of Zyvox [] that were initiated after April 1, 2003” as part of the settlement. See: In the Matter of Pfizer, Inc., Circuit Court of Marion County (OR), Case No. 12C13481.

Additional sources: The Oregonian,

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Related legal case

In the Matter of Pfizer, Inc.