Finally, a conviction of a corporation under RICO. Should give some other big corporations a little pause, but of course now that they can can use their money without limit to bribe public officials, the RICO statues will probably either be overturned, or (more likely) corporations will be declared exempt from RICO:
Pfizer Hit With $141 Million RICO Penalty Over Neurontin Promotion
Plaintiffs argued that Pfizer’s own research showed Neurontin was ineffective for certain unapproved uses, but it suppressed that evidence and misrepresented its findings
The National Law Journal
March 29, 2010
Pfizer Inc. has been socked with an eye-popping $141 million penalty for unlawfully promoting its epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses for which, the plaintiffs said, it didn’t even work.
A federal jury in Boston on Thursday concluded that the pharmaceutical giant had violated federal racketeering laws in promoting the drug for so-called off-label uses that were ineffective. The jury’s verdict was actually $47 million, but the penalty was automatically tripled under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The plaintiffs, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, argued that Pfizer duped them into believing that Neurontin could effectively treat conditions such as migraines and bipolar disorder. Neurontin was approved to treat epilepsy in 1993 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“What was at stake here was evidence-based medicine versus marketing-based medicine,” said Thomas Greene of Boston’s Greene LLP, one of several lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. During trial, Greene argued that Pfizer’s own research showed that Neurontin was not effective for certain unapproved uses, but it suppressed that evidence and misrepresented its findings.
At closing arguments, Linda Nussbaum of New York’s Kaplan Fox, Kaiser’s lead counsel, compared the case to the Bernie Madoff scandal.
“This was really about greed,” Nussbaum said in an interview. “To the defendants here, this was simply a product that they marketed to make as much money as they possibly could.”