A 3-judge appeals court panel in Boston has sided with health carriers in cases involving allegations that a major drug manufacturer used misleading marketing strategies to increase sales of a prescription drug.
The panel, at the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld a U.S. District Court jury verdict in favor of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and its sister plans. The jury in that case, Kaiser vs. Pfizer (Nos., 11-1904, 11-2096), which was filed in Boston, awarded the Kaiser plans $142 million in damages.
The court also sided with a group health plan sponsor in a third case, Harden Manufacturing vs. Pfizer (No. 11-1806).
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The carriers and the employer plan sponsor are suing over coverage of Neurontin, a brand-name version of gabapentin.
Gabapentin mimics some of the effects of GABA, a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Pfizer won federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for doctors to use Neurontin to treat conditions such as seizures and nerve-related pain.