Pfizer to pay $35 million to U.S. states to settle Rapamune claims

The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Files

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc agreed to pay $35 million to 41 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. to settle claims that its Wyeth unit illegally marketed the drug Rapamune, and encouraged doctors and hospitals to prescribe it for off-label uses.

The settlement was announced on Wednesday, just over one year after Pfizer agreed in July 2013 to pay $490.9 million to resolve U.S. Department of Justice claims over the marketing of the drug.

Pfizer bought Wyeth in October 2009, and the alleged improper conduct predated that purchase.

Rapamune was approved in 1999 to help people who received kidney transplants keep their immune systems from rejecting the new organs.

Regulators said Wyeth encouraged its sales force to promote Rapamune for other uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including by people who received heart, liver and lung transplants, and in combination with other drugs.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement also restricts how Pfizer markets other drugs.

“Patients and consumers need to have confidence in the truthfulness of claims made to them by medical providers without having to worry about drug companies manipulating the doctor-patient relationship,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

In 2013, Pfizer, which is based in New York, generated $350 million of revenue from Rapamune. Neither Pfizer nor Wyeth admitted wrongdoing or liability in agreeing to settle.

“Pfizer and its subsidiaries take compliance very seriously and the company is committed to ensuring that its promotional practices meet or exceed all legal requirements and the expectations of the people we serve,” the company said.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio