The state of Louisiana has filed a class action lawsuit against Pfizer alleging that the drug maker defrauded the state by falsely marketing the antidepressant Zoloft. The complaint claims that Pfizer knew from clinical trials on the medication that it was ineffective at treating depression, but pushed for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval anyway. As a result, Louisiana spent millions through its Medicaid program for a drug that the plaintiff alleges does not work.
Zoloft, known generically as sertraline, is in a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Other medications in this class include Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac.
According to the complaint, Pfizer knew the drug had “serious issues with efficacy,” based on internal memos referencing early clinical trials on the medication. In some instances, a placebo showed greater efficacy. However, despite the evidence, Pfizer engaged in deception and fraud to gain FDA approval, the complaint alleges.
A similar, private class action lawsuit was filed against Pfizer in January 2013 making the same accusations regarding the ineffectiveness of Zoloft.
Pfizer also faces more than 250 lawsuits involving birth defects in children born to women who took the medication while pregnant. Many of those lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in Pennsylvania.
Pfizer isn’t the only SSRI maker facing birth defects lawsuits. Makers of other drugs in the class are also facing litigation claiming the drugs caused babies to be born with heart defects, lung defects, brain and spine defects, and malformations.
The Louisiana complaint claims paying for Zoloft is a form of Medicaid fraud against the state, and it seeks restitution, civil penalties and damages for unfair trade, negligent misrepresentation and fraud. Louisiana Medicaid spent $974 million on prescription drug reimbursements in 2012, according to the lawsuit.
Source: All Gov