Neurontin Suicide Lawsuit Settled by Pfizer

The wife of a man who committed suicide on Neurontin, an antiseizure medication manufactured by Pfizer, has settled her wrongful death lawsuit against the drug’s maker. 

Linda Shearer, of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, brought the Neurontin suicide lawsuit against Pfizer after her husband, Hartley Shearer, died in 2002. Shearer’s lawsuit alleged that Pfizer’s Warner-Lambert subsidiary failed to properly warn patients and doctors about the increased risk of suicide from Neurontin side effects.

While details of the Neurontin settlement remain confidential, Bloomberg News reports that the Pfizer agreed to pay about $400,000. Trial in the case was already underway in the U.S. District Court in Boston when the deal was reached.

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

There are currently about 1,200 Neurontin lawsuits pending against Pfizer, most of which have been brought by plaintiffs who say that Neurontin increased 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. All federal lawsuits over Neurontin have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris.

The Shearer settlement came just days after another federal jury in Boston found Pfizer of guilty of illegally promoting Neurontin for off-label uses, and hit Pfizer with $142 million in damages in a case brought by the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., a subsidiary of Kaiser Permanente. Shearer’s lawsuit also claimed the company had promoted the drug for off-label uses in her lawsuit.

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.

4 Comments

  • MarkNovember 17, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    I was prescribed gabapenten for Numbness in legs, Right after I was prescribed this I developed breathing issues which I’ve been now going to a lung specialist. I now can’t even come up with simple words in a conversation. I am experiencing a lot of the same issues others on this site are going through. I thought it was I was just getting older, but now I see it was the medication. My doctor presc[Show More]I was prescribed gabapenten for Numbness in legs, Right after I was prescribed this I developed breathing issues which I’ve been now going to a lung specialist. I now can’t even come up with simple words in a conversation. I am experiencing a lot of the same issues others on this site are going through. I thought it was I was just getting older, but now I see it was the medication. My doctor prescribed this to me for a long time but I was having bad side effects so now they put me on something else. But I was on it for like three years and still experiencing problems with lungs and memory.

  • FeliciaMay 4, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    My father committed suicide in front of my mother when I was 16 shortly after being prescribed Neurontin in 2006. They just change the name but this awful medication is still out there and it needs to be taken off of the market.

  • ernie raeDecember 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    i have had 5 suicide attempts wile taking the drug nurontin. had to be hospitalized each time. my wife and i nor the doctors could pinpoint why i was having the worst symptoms ever from this drug. it was prescribed to me for a broken wrist. just trusted the doc. my wife says iv never been the same to the point were we are currently separated. we are now aware of why the change in my mood and behav[Show More]i have had 5 suicide attempts wile taking the drug nurontin. had to be hospitalized each time. my wife and i nor the doctors could pinpoint why i was having the worst symptoms ever from this drug. it was prescribed to me for a broken wrist. just trusted the doc. my wife says iv never been the same to the point were we are currently separated. we are now aware of why the change in my mood and behavior for some other reason it completely took all my sex drive away so needless. it had horrible affect on both me and my wife

  • LesApril 14, 2010 at 3:25 am

    The side affects are true. I want this off the market.

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