A federal judge is expected to rule any day in Pfizer lawsuit that aims to erase an important control on pharma marketing after decades of regulatory erosion and soaring drug prices.
Three years ago, pharma giant Pfizer paid $24 million to settle federal allegations that it was paying kickbacks and inflating sales by reimbursing Medicare patients for out-of-pocket medication costs.
By making prohibitively expensive medicine essentially free for patients, the company induced them to use Pfizer drugs even as the price of one of those medicines, covered by Medicare and Medicaid, soared 44% to $225,000 a year, the Justice Department alleged.
Now Pfizer is suing Uncle Sam to legalize essentially the same practice it was accused of three years ago — a fighting response to a federal crackdown that has resulted in a dozen drug companies being accused of similar practices.
A Pfizer win could cost taxpayers billions of dollars and erase an important control on pharma marketing after decades of regulatory erosion and soaring drug prices, say health policy analysts. A federal judge’s ruling is expected any day.
“If this is legal for Pfizer, Pfizer will not be the only pharmaceutical company to use this, and there will effectively be a gold rush,” government lawyer Jacob Lillywhite said in oral arguments last month.d be allowed to communicate freely with third-party charities to direct patient assistance.
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