Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum announced that the state has settled with drug giant Pfizer for nearly $1 million over drug price coupons. Pfizer was accused of distributing misleading marketing materials and coupons to residents of the state.
The settlement comes after a four-month investigation conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice. The probe looked into the alleged misleading marketing materials, which stated that consumers who presented the coupons would “pay no more than” a specified amount. Those coupons were only valid on a few of the company’s drugs: Nicotrol Inhaler, Flector Patch, Estring and Quillivant/Quillichew.
The investigation found that consumers were paying significantly more than the coupon stated. At least 371 Oregon consumers paid, in total, more than $40,000 over the amount the coupon promised.
Some of the proceeds from the settlement will be returned to customers who used the coupons. The attorney general expects the average payment to be about $108.
About $500,000 of the settlement will go to Project Access NOW (PANOW), a community health organization serving low-income underinsured or uninsured residents. The organization works with health systems, clinics and community-based organizations to provide health care services to residents of Oregon.
Another $120,000 will be given to the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which also provides health care to Oregon residents.
This is not the first time the state has settled with Pfizer. The state has recouped over $10 million in civil settlements from Pfizer over the last 15 years. The drugmaker has faced a number of infractions, including off-label promotion, misrepresenting the efficacy of a drug, misleading marketing and marketing claims.
In 2008, the state recovered $4.3 million over the company’s off-label promotion of the prescription drugs Celebrex and Bextra. In 2012, the state recovered $3.34 million over marketing claims for drugs Lyrica and Zyvox.