Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces Kentucky's Participation in $491 Million Settlement with Pfizer and Wyeth

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, July 30, 2013  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that Kentucky, the federal government and other states will participate in the $491 million settlement of two lawsuits against drug companies Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Pfizer, Inc. over the illegal marketing of the prescription drug Rapamune. Rapamune was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in kidney transplants to prevent the body from rejecting a donor organ following a transplant.

The civil and criminal claims against Wyeth were the result of qui tam actions filed in the United States District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Western District of Oklahoma under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes. The complaints alleged that Wyeth, which Pfizer acquired in 2009, marketed Rapamune for "off-label" uses not approved by the FDA, including use in liver and non-kidney transplants. Wyeth also illegally marketed Rapamune despite a "Black Box" package warning required by the FDA advising against such use because of the risk of graft loss and death.

The complaints further alleged that Wyeth marketed Rapamune for use in combination with other immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. Again, the package label approved by the FDA stated that the use of other immunosuppressive drugs in combination with Rapamune had not been found to be safe and effective.

"Wyeth has clearly put profits ahead of patient care," General Conway said. "I am pleased that Kentucky is able to participate in this settlement and I hope it sends a message to other drug companies that this type of unscrupulous and illegal behavior is not tolerated."

The Kentucky Medicaid program will receive $584,848.27 from the settlement, of which it will retain $158,298.83 after reimbursing the federal government for its share of the settlement proceeds.

As part of the settlement, Wyeth plead guilty to violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and will pay $233.6 million in criminal fines and penalties.

Medicaid Fraud Recoveries

Since Attorney General Conway took office in January 2008, his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $300 million dollars for the state and federal Medicaid programs. These cases range from lawsuits and settlements against pharmaceutical companies to cases against individual providers.

In 2012, General Conway's Medicaid Fraud Unit was named one of the most aggressive in the country by the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen.

The Attorney General's Tip Line for reporting allegations of Medicaid fraud is 1-877-228-7384.