Pfizer Found Guilty of Violating RICO Act

Normally, the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) has been associated with organized crime. However, this past week a Boston jury found pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had violated the RICO Act in marketing its Neurontin drug for uses that the FDA never approved. The fine for the violation is $47.4 million. Since the jury found Pfizer violated the RICO act, the fine was tripled.
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals argued in court that Pfizer misled the insurance company in believing that Neurontin was an effective treatment for such off-label uses as treating migraines and bipolar disorder even though Neurontin had been approved to treat epilepsy in 1993.
Kaiser officials claim the false marketing claims made by Pfizer cost the insurance company in excess of $90 million.
Interestingly, Pfizer’s own studies found that Neurontin was no more effective than a placebo in treating migraines and bipolar disorder. These findings were not shared with doctors.