A whistleblower suit charges that Pfizer defrauded the government by illegally promoting off-label uses of Lipitor, according to the Wall Street Journal on December 20, 2007.
The lawsuit, filed in 2004 but just unsealed, alleges that Pfizer used misleading educational programs as part of a marketing strategy to encourage physicians to prescribe the cholesterol-lowering medication for patients who did not need it.
Companies are not allowed to promote drugs for indications that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but doctors aren’t prohibited from prescribing them for unapproved uses. Independent educational programs can discuss off-label uses that aren’t FDA approved. The lawsuit charges that the Pfizer-funded programs weren’t independent.