Kessler helps convict Pfizer of racketeering

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Based in part on testimony from former FDA commissioner David Kessler, a Massachusetts federal jury has found Pfizer guilty of violating racketeering laws in marketing its epilepsy drug Neurontin. The jury said the company should pay $142.1 million in damages.

In the case, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals said Pfizer illegally promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses. A Kaiser attorney said the jury found that Pfizer engaged in a racketeering conspiracy for 10 years, a determination that he said should help in future Neurontin cases.

Kaiser claimed it was forced to pay $90 million more than it should have for Neurontin, believing that migraines and bipolar disorder were among conditions it could treat effectively.

Several jurors said they were influenced by Kessler's testimony on behalf of Kaiser along with testimony by Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Kay Dickerson. Dickerson's article casting doubt on Neurontin clinical studies appeared in 2009.

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