Pfizer must pay $700,000 to settle a probe by the State of New York over the company’s “copay coupons.” The defendant agreed to pay $700,000 to settle the Attorney General’s lawsuit in which the drugmaker is accused of using deceptive marketing practices.
Consumers expected to pay “no more than” $15 – $20 out of pocket, or the figure listed on their respective “pay no more than” coupons, but they were charged more than the coupons suggested.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood claims that the manufacturer did not display the limits on the customer’s savings prominently enough.
One customer was promised a maximum payment of $15, according to the coupon, but ended up with a $144.62 bill. Pfizer used their coupon promotions for three years, promoting Estring, Quillivant XR and Quillichew ER. The consumer filed a complaint which lead the Attorney General to investigate Pfizer’s marketing practices and claims.
AG Underwood released an official statement on the matter. “Pfizer misled customers by promising a low copay for prescription drugs – only to leave them with major bills at the cash register. Now, they must take responsibility and provide restitution to the New Yorkers they deceived,” states AG Underwood. She promises to investigate all companies that deceive or mislead New Yorkers.
Customers will receive $200,000 in reimbursements in accordance with the settlement. Pfizer confirms an additional $500,000 will be paid for costs, fees and penalties. Pfizer has since changed the wording of their coupons to say “pay as little as,” instead of, “pay no more than” in early 2018.
California and other states are tackling copay coupons and similar practices, limiting the practice when generic options are available for less.
Coupons are often used to lure consumers away from generics with promises of low costs, but instead, the consumer is left with an expensive brand name drug.