Pfizer faces qui tam whistleblower lawsuit over Flector pain patch marketing

by Eric Pearson

Pfizer is facing a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit in Maryland federal court over allegations of fraudulent marketing practices involving the Flector painkiller patch. The lawsuit accuses Pfizer and three subsidiary companies of misbranding the Flector patch and of paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the patch to their patients.

Flector is an anti-inflammatory pain patch that contains diclofenacepolamine, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The Flector patch is usually prescribed to treat patients with local pain from sprains, strains, or bruises. Flector was originally manufactured by Alpharma, which was acquired by King Pharmaceuticals in 2008. In 2010, King was acquired by Pfizer. Both companies were also named as defendants in the Flector lawsuit.

The Maryland lawsuit over the Flector patch was filed by Jerome Palmieri, a former sales representative with Alpharma. Palmieri filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his former employer in 2010, alleging that the company encouraged doctors to illegally prescribe the Flector patch for off-label use and in excessive doses.

The lawsuit also accused Alpharma of encouraging doctors to prescribe the pain patch for longer durations than those recommended by drug’s label and to treat long-term pain. Under FDA regulations, drugmakers are not allowed to promote their products for uses that have not been approved by the health agency.

Palmieri also alleged that Alpharma paid kickbacks in the form of speaking fees or free samples of the pain patch to doctors who prescribed Flector to their patients. Palmieri alleged that some of these prescriptions were submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal programs for reimbursement.

Under a federal law known as the False Claims Act, whistleblowers can file lawsuits – known as qui tam claims – on behalf of the federal government against companies who committed fraud against government agencies. These whistleblowers are entitled to receive a portion of any verdicts or settlements recovered by the federal government in these cases. The federal government reports that the number of qui tam lawsuits filed by whistleblower who witnessed acts of fraud against federal agencies has risen steadily over recent years.

Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

Individuals who have been witness to acts of fraud against the government may be eligible to file a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act and receive a portion of the final settlement awarded to federal authorities. The whistleblower in these cases does not have to have been personally harmed; they just need to be aware of the false or fraudulent conduct. Billions of dollars have been recovered as a result of False Claims Act lawsuits, including hundreds of millions that have been paid to private citizens who filed whistleblower lawsuits.

If you believe that you have information about fraudulent actions against federal agencies such as Medicare or Medicaid, you may be eligible to file a qui tam lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with a law firm whose attorneys have the experience in handling qui tam litigation cases to guide you through the first steps in filing a lawsuit.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed numerous whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have reported acts of fraud against the government. Our attorneys have the expertise and resources to handle even the most complex False Claims Act cases. Our firm has the knowledge regarding qui tam litigation to ensure that whistleblowers receive the highest possible settlement for pursuing allegations of fraud on behalf of federal government agencies.

For more information about filing a qui tam lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation regarding your case. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.