Pfizer Sued Over Lipitor Benefit Claims

NEW YORK Pfizer has been sued for allegedly marketing its blockbuster Lipitor brand as a drug that may prevent heart disease in women and seniors, when there is no evidence to back such a claim.

Lipitor, an anti-cholesterol therapy, generates revenue in excess of $10 billion a year for Pfizer.

“We believe Pfizer intentionally ignored the scientific evidence—and lack thereof—and launched a multi-million-dollar ad campaign designed to push the drug to anyone they could convince to buy it,” said Steve Berman, the attorney who filed the suit. Berman is requesting class-action status.

The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 28 in Federal District Court in Boston.

“We intend to prove that Pfizer pocketed billions in sales to those who do not benefit from Lipitor,” Berman said.

Pfizer’s ads made few specific claims about heart disease. At least one print ad, however, stated, “High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.”

Berman and his plaintiffs, who include the Teamsters Union, believe there are no clinical studies that cite Lipitor as a preventor of heart problems in women and the elderly.

Pfizer declined comment.

Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners in New York had fashioned ads for the brand, which is presently in review. WPP Group’s JWT, Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group and independent mcgarrybowen, all here, are finalists for the $60-80 million Lipitor account.