Neurontin Maker Fined
On May 13 drug manufacturer Pfizer was fined $430 million for
promoting off-label use of the drug Neurontin (gabapentin). The company violated
the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which prohibits marketing a drug for uses other
than those which have been approved. The FDA approved Neurontin for use in
treating epilepsy in 1993 and for post-herpetic pain in 2002.
While medical professionals can prescribe approved drugs for
any condition, insiders alleged that the company provided incentives to doctors
to use Neurontin as a treatment for pain, headaches, bi-polar disorder and other
psychiatric illnesses. Sales of Neurontin soared from $97.5 million in 1995 to
nearly $2.7 billion in 2003. Neurontin is a treatment option considered by many
clinicians. As with most prescription medications, some patients find it very
helpful, while others experience little or no benefit.
Patients who take Neurontin should not be affected by the
settlement, although some industry analysts expect that the size of the award
may spur other investigations into marketing off-label uses of pharmaceuticals.
There are no drugs approved by FDA for specific use in treating
For more information about the use of Neurontin in
CFIDS, read an article published in The
CFIDS Chronicle in 1999,