Pfizer Litigation, False Claims Act
Relators Alex Booker and Edmund Hebron (“Relators”) alleged that Pfizer Inc. (“Pfizer”) violated the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., as well as several analogous state statutes, by improperly promoting the drugs Geodon and Pristiq and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement to government health care programs. Relators also asserted that Pfizer violated the FCA by failing to pay amounts set as stipulated penalties pursuant to the terms of its Corporate Integrity Agreement (“CIA”) with the United States Office of the Inspector General. Finally, Relators asserted that Pfizer terminated Booker’s employment in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the FCA.
Pfizer moved to dismiss Relators’ claims on several grounds: lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), based on the FCA’s first-to-file bar; the FCA’s public disclosure bar; failure to state a claim, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); and failure to plead fraud with particularity, Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). At the hearing on the motion to dismiss on June 11, 2013, the Court delayed any orders on scheduling pending resolution of the motion to dismiss.
On March 26, 2014, the Court granted in part and denied in part Pfizer’s motion to dismiss, allowing Relators to pursue federal FCA claims based on off-label promotion of Geodon for (1) children and adolescents, (2) bipolar maintenance, and (3) excessive dosage. Order at 49. The Court also allowed Relators to pursue claims based on kickbacks, as well as Relator Booker’s retaliation claim under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h). [Order at 49, 51-52].
At a hearing before the Court on June 18, 2014, relating to the discovery calendar, Pfizer attempted to limit discovery to St. Louis and Chicago. Relators successfully defeated this effort and were granted nationwide discovery. The Court, in so ruling, noted that this case is national in scope.