Wyeth agrees to $491M settlement over transplant drug

The former Wyeth Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Collegeville. (Photo by Gene Walsh / 21st Century Media)

Pennsylvania will get more than $1 million in a multi-state settlement over the unapproved off-label promotion of a kidney transplant drug by the former Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was headquartered in Collegeville before being purchased by Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer agreed Tuesday to the $491 million multi-state settlement over Wyeth’s off-label promotion of the kidney transplant drug Rapamune.

Rapamune is prescribed to prevent organ recipients from rejecting transplanted kidneys, but Wyeth promoted the sale and use of the drug for recipients of other organs.

“Additionally, Wyeth allegedly promoted that Rapamune be used in treatment regimens with transplant patients, who used another immunosuppressant drug before using Rapamune and who did not receive Rapamune at or around the time of a kidney transplant,” read a press release from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general joined in the multi-state lawsuit over the improper use of the drug.

Wyeth will pay more than $257 million in civil damages and penalties to the states and federal governments. More than $60 million of the settlement will be used for Medicaid programs. Pennsylvania’s share of the settlement is $1.4 million.

Wyeth will also pay $233 million for violating the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to cover criminal fines and forfeitures, the attorney general said. That fine comes after the company pleaded guilty to the charges in federal court in Oklahoma.

Wyeth was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2009 after Wyeth had pleaded guilty to the charges.

The settlement was conducted by the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Controls Unit.

For more information on this settlement and the charges, click here.

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