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BOSTON — (Mealey’s) A Massachusetts federal jury on March 25 awarded $47.3 million to the Kaiser Foundation after finding that Pfizer Inc. engaged in racketeering and unfair competition through its off-label marketing of Neurontin (In Re: Neurontin Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1629, No. 04-10981; Guardian Life Insurance Company of America v. Pfizer, Inc., et al., Aetna, Inc., v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 04-10739, D. Mass.).Because Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospital brought their claims in part under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the verdict could be tripled by the court, bringing the judgment to $142 million.The jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts found that Pfizer violated RICO and California’s unfair competition law with respect to its promotion for Neurontin for bipolar disorder, migraine pain, neuropathic pain and dosages over 1,800 milligrams but not for promotion for nociceptive pain. It also found that the violations injured Kaiser and that Kaiser’s claim was not barred by the statute of limitations.The jury awarded a total of $47,363,092, broken down as follows: $14,962,055 for promotion for bipolar disorder; $893,462 for promotion for migraine pain; $28,644,865 for promotion for neuropathic pain; and $2,862,710 for promotion for dosages over 1,800 milligrams.Kaiser sued Pfizer in the District of Massachusetts, where the Neurontin multidistrict ligation is centralized, alleging that off-label marketing of Neurontin caused it to pay for a drug that was not approved for or effective in treating certain conditions. The trial began Feb. 22, and the jury began deliberating Wednesday. Judge Patti B. Saris presided.The trial is the first third-party-payer trial in the Neurontin MDL, which was created in 2004.[Editor's Note: Full coverage will be in the April 1 issue of Mealey’s Emerging Drugs & Devices. In the meantime, the verdict form is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844. Document #28-100401-019V. For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]
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