Neurontin Lawsuit Results in $142M in Damages Against Pfizer

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By: Staff Writers | Published: March 29th, 2010

A federal jury in Boston has found that Pfizer violated U.S. racketeering laws by illegally promoting off-label uses of its epilepsy drug Neurontin, and the drug maker may be forced to pay more than $142 million in damages in the case.

The Neurontin lawsuit, brought by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, charged Pfizer with illegal promotion of Neurontin for migraines, bipolar disorder and other conditions. The plaintiffs alleged that they were forced to overpay $90 million for the medication, which did not perform as advertised.

The U.S. District Court jury in Boston deliberated for two days after a month-long trial, and awarded the plaintiffs $47.36 million in damages. However, since the charges include claims that Pfizer violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the jury award is automatically tripled, meaning that if the ruling stands Pfizer would have to pay $142.1 million in total.

The case is just one of about 1,200 lawsuits over Neurontin that Pfizer is facing. Most of the lawsuits have been brought by individual plaintiffs who say that Neurontin side effects increase the risk of suicide. In 2008, the FDA required Neurontin and similar epilepsy drugs to begin carrying label warnings alerting users to the risk of suicidal thoughts.

While doctors are free to prescribe drugs for uses not approved by the FDA, manufacturers are prohibited from marketing the drugs for such uses that they have not established are safe and effective. In 2004, Parke-Davis, a division of Warner-Lambert that was acquired by Pfizer, paid $430 million to the U.S. Justice Department over claims that they were illegally promoting Neurontin for off-label uses, including control of mood swings. Last fall, Pfizer paid the Justice Department $2.3 billion to settle a number of off-label marketing claims which included its marketing of Neurontin.

Neurontin (gabapentin) is an epilepsy medication approved by the FDA in 1983, which generated $387 million in sales for Pfizer in 2008.

The first Neurontin lawsuit to go to trial, which involved a claim brought by the family of Susan Bolger, who committed suicide in 2004 after taking the drug, was dropped last summer before a verdict was ever returned.

All federal lawsuits involving Neurontin have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris, and the next Neurontin lawsuit trial is scheduled to begin next week in the same court.

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There Are 32 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. My friend’s father committed suicide sometime after being prescribed Neurontin for neurological pain. Two doctors have wanted to prescribe to me Neurontin for neurological pain and I have steadfastly refused. They think I’m nuts! I won’t take it!
    My friend, her mother and sisters go to court against Pfizer, I presume, in May.
    With the pharmecutical companies isn’t it all about $$$$$$$? All share guilt, not just Pfizer. So much for civilization.

  2. I was recently prescribed Neurontin for headaches. I actually decided today to stop taking it because was making me extremely depressed, and nautious. It made me feel much worse than before it was prescribed. I just signed on to check out what the web has to say about the drug, so it is ironic that I found this article, which was published yesterday. These pills are going down the toilet.

  3. Praise the Lord,GOD BLESS THAT FEDERAL JURYS> ATTORNEY ERIK HOLDER YOUR EX EMPLOYEE SITTING AT THE TOP OF THAT constant Plea Bargin U.S. JUSTICE DEPT I suppose is your saving grace..
    THE coruption never stops, I guess the health insurance industry could use the reboundmoney, but you guys at Pfizer is what drove up costs all over America, that won’t come down now,cause the damage is done.
    THANK-YOU JURY for “one” victory against COORPORATE greed!!
    GET SOME MORE JURY”S LINED UP< ONLY 1,200 trials of ours to go!!!!

  4. A neurologist prescribed Neurontin for me, knowing I was being treated for depression. Ten days after taking the first dose I was depressed and suicidal. On a follow-up appointment I told him I was so depressed I wanted to die. He told me to stop being dramatic. I couldn’t stop crying. I called my therapist. She saw me about an hour later, told me it was the Neurontin causing me to spiral, and told me to stop taking it immediately. I did. Weeks later I am still struggling to regain my pre-Neurontin level mental health.

  5. Has anyone had experience with children prescribed neurontin for chronic pain and then topamax for migraines?

  6. I was prescribed Neurontin in 2001 because it was believed that it would cover not only my failed back surgery pain, but also my bipolar.

    It freed me from having to take lithium (that’s another issue!} and the pain relief was wonderful.

    However, I have discovered that it has caused extreme skin sensitivity.
    When I try to reduce the dosage, the burning pain is almost intolerable.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

  7. I was taking Neurontin for neuropathy and was so depressed that I was suicidal.

  8. I took neurontin for nerve pain and was also being treated for depression. This was a work comp injury and if I did not take the med I was considered non complient and would no longer receive benefits. I went through HELL for 6 years with a Colorado work comp company. They did not care about the side effects of this drug or anything else. II was extremely depressed and suicidal. In addition, their doctor left me with a blood clot in my subclavian for a month telling me it was myofacial pain. I almost died. All they care about is money. It is be the grace of GOD that I am alive. They are now trying to collect money for medication expenses incurred prior to closing this case.

  9. I am a breast cancer survivor – twice! With my first diagnosis I was able get by w/a lumpectomy and radiation – that was 13 years ago. In November of ’08 I got bc again, in the same breast. This time after a mastectomy, I had to undergo chemo. Stage 1 of chemo went as expected – hair loss, nausea, etc. Stage 2, however, included Taxol, which is far less traumatic for most, and as such is usually given weekly, vs. Stage 1, which is e/o week. The day after my 2nd dose my fingernails turned soft, brown, and, eventually, fell off – as did my toenails. I also experienced incredible clumsiness, scary numbness in my feet, lower legs and hands. I fell down stairs, up stairs and just walking across the room! I was prescribed Neurontin to help with the symptoms.

    Still needing to continue chemo, it was recommended I take a derivative, Taxotere. I should have known when I was told I would take it every 3 weeks that I wasn’t in for a joy ride. The symptoms I described above continued, but at a far slower, and more manageable pace. The alternative was never an option – no chemo = greater chance of death. My oncologist kept all my doctors aware of all meds I was taking; it was especially important to her that they be aware of the Neurontin, as it affects the Nervous System, and therefore, the brain.

    It has been over a year since my chemo ended and so far I am cancer-free. My nails have grown back, and my hair, etc, however, I still experience some numbness and pain in my extremities and continue with some clumsiness. I am still on neurontin, albeit a lesser dose. I met recently with my Neurologist who lessened the dose, but changed the frequency to 3X day vs. the 2X day I had been taking. After extensive tests, it is our conclusion that the symptoms continue to lessen, and eventually, I will be symptom free. The Taxol family is a potent one to say the least!

    However, whether or not I will stop taking Neurontin remains to be seen for one reason. I suffered from Bi-Polar disorder for 5 years prior to my cancer diagnosis. While the medication that finally worked for me, Lamectal, was great, I still had occasional breakthrough depression and mood swings. As they were only occasional, and unpredictable, taking a higher dose of Lamectal wasn’t prudent. Oddly, towards the end of my treatment, when one would think I my moods would be more unstable, I actually did better from a mental health standpoint. My psychiatrist later said that it was a good drug to have had “on board”, as chemo is known to lessen the effects of many drugs, Lamectal among them. I still experience far less “breakthrough” episodes, even with the lowered dosage of Neurotin, and once I reach a certain dose of Lamectal, it will cease to be effective. I took over 13 drugs and/or combination of drugs before finding a match with Lamectal. The stupor and horrible side effects that came with all of them DID make me suicidal. So anything that can prolong the day I need to take increasingly stronger doses of a med that finally works for me is a blessing.

    I am usually an advocate for the ‘little guy’ and have suffered at the hands of pharmaceutical companies over and over and over my entire life. However, I want to say that, for whatever reason, Neurontin has worked for me just as described. Pfizer’s sample group was probably too low, or maybe the Bi-Polar test patients had been through the “drug cocktail” tests too many times like I had – so, compared to the alternative, it seemed like great stuff. In conclusion, unlike so many others, Neurontin worked for me and I can’t imagine how difficult life would have been, and would be now, without it.

  10. I suffer from what they think is Multiple Sclerosis but right now, it’s only possible. A neuro that kept me over night in a hospital gave me Neurontin. I have to say that it helped just as he said it would. Before Neurontin, I had to wrap a heating blanket around my legs every night and whimper myself to sleep because I was in so much pain. The constant burning pain and sensations, the crawling skin sensations, the constant numbness and tingling. I still have some of those symptoms but very rarely.

    Am I just hopeful? Maybe. But I have been taking Neurontin for 4 months and I haven’t felt better in the last couple of years. Thank you Pfizer for making this drug.

  11. I was on neurotin for 3 to 4 years and tried to commit suicide 3 times and lost everything important to me neuroton is a BAD medication!!!!!!!

  12. neurotin ruind my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. I was given neurotin for nerve pain in my feet.I have diabetes,this was at the end of 2006.It drove me nuts! All I wanted to do was die.I just didn’t have the nerve to do it.But this drug caused me so much misery.I lost everything I had.I put a gun to the girl that was my heart.I would never harm her.But pfizer,they knew what this drug did to certain people! And they didn’t say a word to the public!Whatever happens to this co.they deserve!But let me say this,if the drug helps someone I wish them well.It’s just an awful drug for some,and pfizer should have told US about the side effects.
    Thank you.Mike

  14. i completed the paper work 4 the law suit,& i havent heard a thing on settlement till now.someone contact me.

  15. I HAVE SEVERE NECK PAINS FROM SPURS ON MY SPINE IN MY NECK. WAS SENT TO PAIN MANAGEMENT AFTER HAVING X-RAYS.MRI’S AND CT SCANS. MY FIRST VISIT TO PAIN MANAGEMENT WAS AUGUST 2011. THEY PRESCRIBED ME MORPHINE. THEY SCHEDULED ME TO COME BACK IN ONE MONTH, SEPTEMBER 2011. THE MORPHINE HAD NOT HELPED ME. THEY UPPED MY MORPHINE PRESCRIPTION TO 30 MG TWICE A DAY AND ADDED GABAPENTIN (NUERONTIN) 300 MG THREE TIMES A DAY. SCHEDULED ME TO BE BACK IN A MONTH . OCTOBER 2011. I STILL HAD ANY RELIEF FROM THE PAIN. THEY TOOK ME OFF MORPHINE AND NEURONTIN AND PUT ME ON OXYCONTIN 15 MG 2 TIMES A DAY.ON THURSDAY OCTOBER 13 2011. I HAD MY PRESCRIPTION FILLED AT ABOUT 4;30 PM THURSDAY. I TOOK ONE OF THEM AND I STARTED FEELING A LITTLE STRANGE (NOT MYSELF). SEEMED EVERYTHING MADE ME ANGRY BUT NOT SEVERELY. I TRIED TO GO TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT AND IT FELT LIKE MY NERVES WERE TRYING TO JUMP OUT OF MY BODY. I COULDN’T KEEP MY LEGS STILL, FELT LIKE I NEEDED TO RUN. THE NERVES IN MY BACK SEEMED LIKE THEY WERE CRAWLING FROM BOTTOM OF BACK TO NECK. MY EYEBALLS FELT REAL TIGHT LIKE THEY WERE GOING TO POP. MY EYES ALSO FELT LIKE WHEN I TRIED TO CLOSE THEM THEY FELT LIKE THEY WERE JUST GOING TO KEEP ROLLING INTO THE BACK OF MY HEAD. KIND OF LIKE A SLOT MACHINE WHERE THE REELS JUST KEEP ROLLING. COULDN’T CLOSE MY EYES, SCARED TO. I FINALLY DOSED OFF TO SLEEP AFTER HOURS UPON HOURS. MY DAUGHTER HAD CHOIR COMPETITION FRIDAY SO I FELT I REALLY NEEDED TO GO. NOT KNOWING FOR SURE WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE THE OXYCONTIN OR WITHDRAWALS FROM THE MORPHINE OR NUERONTIN. I DID NOT KNOW, STILL DON’T. I TOOK AN OXYCONTIN AND WENT TO HER COMPETITION. DURING THE TIME WE WERE THERE I TOLD MY WIFE ABOUT HOW I WAS FEELING REAL STRANGE. I HAD A HOT FEELING IN MY CHEST AND DIDN’T FEEL WELL. THIS WAS FRIDAY MORNING. LATER THAT DAY I STARTED GOING OUT OF MY MIND. I REMEMBER GETTING MAD BECAUSE I WAS WORKING ON THE FRONT DOOR OF OUR HOUSE AND THINGS DIDN’T GO JUST RIGHT.I AM NOT A VIOLENT PERSON AND NEVER LOSE MY TEMPER LIKE I DID THAT AFTERNOON. I STARTED TROWING THINGS AND WAS JUST EXPLODING. AFTER THAT I CAN HARDLY REMEMBER ANYTHING.I DO REMEMBER GIVING THE OXYCONTIN TO MY WIFE AND AFTER THAT ALL I REMEMBER IS VERY LITTLE. MOSTLY LYING IN THE BED ROCKING BACK AND FORTH. MY NERVES WAS JUST DRIVING ME CRAZY.NEXT THING I KNOW I AM BEING ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED TO BE CHARGED WITH THIS OTHER THAN WHAT MY WIFE HAS TOLD ME.I AM SOOO SORRY FOR WHAT HAPPENED AND SO REMORSEFUL. WE HAVE THREE CHILDREN AND HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 11 YEARS. NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED. NOW THE POLICE HAS AN ORDER I CAN’T BE WITH MY FAMILY UNTIL I GO TO COURT AND SEE WHAT THE JUDGE SAYS. FROM WHAT I CAN FIND OUT, THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS CHARGE.I AM SCARED AND GOING CRAZY WORRYING ABOUT THIS.I HAVE NO PRIOR CONVICTIONS I AM 49 YEARS OLD.PLEASE HELP ME GET SOME KIND OF JUSTICE FROM THESE CHARGES. THE ONLY JUSTICE I AM GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET IS THROUGH THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, WICHEVER IS THE CAUSE FOR MY ACTIONS. IF IT WERE NOT FOR THEM I WOULD NOT BE IN THIS MESS. DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF PENALTIES I AM FACING, SOME WEBSITES SAY 6 MONTHS LOSS OF HUNTING PRIVALIGES AND GUNS FOR LIFE. SOME SAY SAME BUT UP TO 5 TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON. I HAVE NEVER FELT SO VIOLATED. CAN’T SAT ENOUGH HOW SORRY I AM FOR WHAT I DID AND HOW REMORSEFUL I AM. I LOVE MY WIFE AND FAMILY VERY MUCH.

  16. I was diagnosed 10 years ago with cluster headaches. In that time I was put on many medications to find what would work and most the time the meds did not work. I was put on neurontin 300 mg with 300mg with each headache I had during the day. During that time I was having up to 20 headaches a day. My neurologist decided to up my dose a little at a time. I went from 300mg a day to 900mg a day not counting the 300mg I was taking with each headache I had during the day. I was taking 3000mg or more a day of neurontin along with other medications. No one told me of the side effects. I did read the insert that comes with my medication from the pharmacy but when you have multiple medications working agsints each other it gets complicated. It didn’t take long on this dose and I was getting fuzzy, lost, sad, depressed and one day I looked at myself in the mirror put my fist through it took a piece of the broken glass sat on my bathroom floor and cut my wrist wide open and I just sat there and laughed uncontrollably. The amount of neurontin in my system was unreal, it took some but I got better. Neurontin is a dangerous medication.

  17. I HAVE HAD DEPRESSION AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS IN THE PAST. ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO I ATTEMPTED SUICIDE BY OVERDOSE, I TOOK ABOIT 40/ 60MG MORPHINE, HALF A BOTTLE OF ZANAX, HAND FULL OF SOMA & SLEEPING PILLS, MADE MY PEACE WITH GOD AND LAID DOWN, IN ABOUT 2 SECONDS THE PHONE WRANG, IT WAS A FRIEND THAT HAD BEEN OVER AND CALLING FOR FIVE DAYS. I LIVED. MUST BE A SPECIAL REASON IM HERE.
    I HAVE GREAT PAIN, DISABELING PAIN. MY DR. PUT ME ON HIGH DOSES OF GABIPENTIN, BROKEN BACK AND BOTH BICEPTS TORE LOOSE AND CANNOT BE RECONECTED.
    I SLOWED AND STOPPED THE DRUG. MY DR. WAS OUT OF TOWN, WHEN HE GOT BACK HE WAS ANGRY I STOPPED IT AND PUT ME RIGHT BACK ON IT. I FEAR THIS DRUG AND ITS AFFECTS ON MY MENTAL CLARITY AND YET SEE NO GREAT PAIN REDUCTION FOR TAKING IT 5 TIMES A DAY. IT SEEMS I HAVE WENT BACKWARD IN MY HEALTH SINCE I STARTED THIS MED, I ALSO LOST ABOUT 12 POUNDS AND IM UNDERWEIGHT AS IT IS. IF SOMEONE COULD OFFER ADVICE ON MY SITUATION, CLEAR CONCISE INFO. TO TAKE ACTION I WOULD APPRECIATE IT. GOOD LUCK PIERS

  18. My wife had been perscribed neurontin for (I want
    to say 5 years) she had convultions and was bed ridden
    for that time,we were told (after a perscription bill of
    $800 a month out of pocket,that all she could receive
    would be reimbursment of cost for med and it would
    cost that much in legal.
    basically it would take years and basically no recoveru
    pfizer has more $ and they win,its too hard to fight big
    business even though my wife spent years in misery

  19. When I was in high school i became severly depressed. I was prescribed neurontin for anxiety and depression. Very soon after starting this medication I tried to commit suicide by taking the rest of my meds, about 20 pills, and took about 10+ tylenol. I was rushed to the e.r. After admitting my actions to my parents. I still have boughts of depression but havent tried to commit suicide since. I am certain it was the medication.

  20. WAS GIVEN THE MEDICATION TO BLOCK POST SURGICAL NERVE PAIN FROM A PARTIAL NURECTOMY OF THE SURAL NERVE IN THE RIGHT LEG.

    2 and 1/2 days later i was admitted to the hospital with life threatening allergic reactions, resulting in immdiate admitted for 5 or so days as my reaction usually was accompanied by breathing problems.

    I developed skin lesions or ” Target patches through out the entire body. All from a anti convulsant impropery prescribed ??

    My incident occured in 2000 can i still recover from the this situation?

  21. i have been taking neurontin for 8 years for bypoler disorder and also for nerve pain it seems to work ok i still have some mood swings and deppresion it has allso caused me to lose a long relation ship because it causes sexual side affects and i still have the mood swings and deppreson that he could not handle it has been hard on me but i dont know if neurontin is my problem becaise i take a lot of other medication

  22. need a lawyer that’s would like to have my case. I live in Alabama.

  23. I took Neurontin in 1999 and I was committed to a psyche hospital for attempted suicide in New Jersey.

  24. I have had chronic almost daily migraines, back pain, and restless leg syndrome for 25 years. I had many mris, tests, and tried many pills and therapies. I was prescribed neurontin 3 100mg each day, and it’s ia miracle pill for me. It has completely stopped my migraines and other pain, and I have no side effects. My other meds were eliminated. I absolutely LOVE this pill. It has given my life back to me. I thank god every day for this pill. After being in chronic daily pain for 25 years, to have no pain is a miracle for me.

  25. 1/03/2008- I had a neurological exam for lumbar nerve pain,which extended down my legs. Except for a slight hand tremor, which was considered normal for a 59 year old woman, the exam was normal -no dyskinesia or other abnormal movements. Prescribed Neurontin 300 capsule on 3/26/08. 1st pill made hands a little shakier. It subsided by am. Wish I hadn\\\’t decided to take just one more pill. 1st bad reaction, left hand felt like it was burning, and rapid hand shaking lasted several min.. 2nd – I saw a bright light, lasted about a min.. I yelled, \\\” This drug is ruining me!\\\” Other uncontrollable movements began – intermittent arm flailing- uncontrollable leg movements, shoulder shrugging. Later, I lost control of facial movements.
    Dr. contacted, they said it would wear off, but it didn\\\’t. Within 2 months, my right hand became stiff-thumb first.#dystonia# The hand Neurologist said my thumb was clonus and he couldn\\\’t fix it, and didn\\\’t want to amputate my hand.. I felt suicidal, but couldn\\\’t try it.
    I found on Drugs dot com under gabapentin that other people have complained about myoclonus #many movements#. as well as ataxia, loss of balance.
    I think their 300mg recommended dosage is too high. As we age, we become more sensitive to drugs.

  26. Was prescribed gralise in March 2012 I immediately started having panic attacks and bad depression. I told my doctor on the next visit in May and he said it was not the gralise. He offered me Xanax. I declined then approached him again in July to get off. He then told me it was too strong for me and told me to taper off over a week. I have been tapering off for a year. Going down 10% at a time. This medicine is horrible and the doctors don\’t know enough about it.

  27. WHY DO PEOPLE POST IN ALL CAPS???? DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO BE HEARD??????? AAAAAAARRRRHHHHHGGG!!!!!!!

  28. The VA had me on gabapenton as a pain medication. It first made all my joints slightly swell, and some pain did go away. They kept me on a high dosage for 2 years. My immediate side effect was all emotions went away. When I finally decided to detox off of the drug, my hair had started falling out. This started after being on the drug for 1 and a half years. I now have life long alopecia areata. Detoxing of this drug was the worst pain of my life. I sat in a cold bathtub for two days with thoughts of suicide going through my head constantly. I read on a website that during their trials, 22% of the men contracted the hair loss for life. I don’t recommend this drug for anyone.

  29. The VA had me on gabapenton as a pain medication. It first made all my joints slightly swell, and some pain did go away. They kept me on a high dosage for 2 years. My immediate side effect was all emotions went away. When I finally decided to detox off of the drug, my hair had started falling out. This started after being on the drug for 1 and a half years. I now have life long alopecia areata. Detoxing of this drug was the worst pain of my life. I sat in a cold bathtub for two days with thoughts of suicide going through my head constantly. I read on a website that during their trials, 22% of the men contracted the hair loss for life. I don’t recommend this drug for anyone.

  30. Took gabapentin 100mg 3x/day for some years from rheumatologist. Later had an increase in dose but don’t remember how much it increased. Then neurologist increased it -said dose was too low to be effective for me- to 600 mg 3x a day.
    I have fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and post herpetic neuritis and I know how well the gabapentin works about 7-8 hours after I miss the afternoon dose. Then I am in agony. My side effects are some weight gain, transient hand and ankle swelling. There are other possible reasons for my side effects i.e. I eat well.

  31. Ive been on neurontin/gabapentin for about 10 years, i was originally given it by a phsyciatrist originally for bipolar, but then i was told i would have to get it from p.c dr.ive changed drs a few times because i moved n needed a dr in my area,,i started on 100 mgs 3times a day.but im now on 1200 mgs 3times a day,,oer these past 4-5 years since increase (im now realizing)neurontin has caused me great harm,over past few years i have these itchy sores all over arns legs ,zome on head n neck,also over these past 5 or yrs or so i have also suffered ahat felt like a heart attack and was actually given nitroglycerin one,i have just been diagnosed with bradycardia. Everything is making sence .now,the only common denominator is gabapentin,i have no energy ar all ,im only 53 years old and im a mess.if u r a lawydr,i hope u czn contact me for more facts,also i can not nust stop taking this medicine because of the strain it puts on me.profuse sweating …alot of sympto,

  32. Nuerontin was prescribed to me for fibromyalgia and chiari pain it nadebme s3verely depresssed all I did was cry for days and lay in bed depressed and I am a typically happy person w a great lifem I dcd the meds and my dr actually has in my notes tjat it d8d that to me and no longer to prescribe to mem nuerontin is evil!!!!

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