In 1996, Dr. David Franklin, a former Parke-Davis medical liaison filed a lawsuit against Parke-Davis and Warner Lambert. Franklin asserted the company had used an illegal marketing plan to drive up sales of Neurontin.
According to Franklin, the company urged its representatives to give misleading and wrong information to doctors to encourage them to prescribe Neurontin for ailments it hadn't been approved to treat.
Franklin charged Warner-Lambert of promoting the drug for relieving pain,
headaches, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric illnesses. The company paid
doctors to attend so-called ``consultants meetings,'' in which physicians
received a fee for attending.
Franklin said the company informed him to tell doctors that studies showed the
drug could be used to treat such things as bi-polar disorders. In reality,
the company had a study showing a placebo had outperformed Neurontin in
treating bi-polar conditions.
Under government rules, drug companies can only market their products for
approved uses. Doctors, however, can prescribe drugs for so-called unapproved
or "off-label uses."
In effect Warner-Lambert paid representatives to create brand loyalty for Neurontin. A drug which was often ineffective for the conditions which it was prescribed.
Franklin alleged that approving physicians were lavished with tickets to
sporting events, golf outings and conference speaker fees. One physician was
revealed to have taken home over $300,000.
Franklin said when he finally realized the company was deceiving him, doctors,
and patients he knew it was a situation he couldn't live with so he quit after four months.
In 1996, Franklin sued Pfizer Inc.(the company who bought Warner-Lambert) for
Pfizer Inc. settled in 2004 and paid $430 million in fines.
Franklin, under the whistle blowers act received $26.6 million.