Greene LLP Attorneys Named Finalists for Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

The Public Justice Foundation, a non-profit promoting civil rights, names one trial attorney or trial team per year that has advanced Public Justices goals of access to justice through trial advocacy.  This spring, Greene LLP attorney Thomas M. Greene was nominated for the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his role in the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan RICO case tried in 2010, which resulted in a trebled jury verdict of $142 million over Pfizer’s fraudulent off-label marketing practices of Neurontin. This month, Greene and his trial team, including Ilyas J. Rona, were selected as finalists by Public Justice from among the nominations.

Kaiser’s RICO claims were tried to a federal jury in Boston, and claims under the California Unfair Competition Law were tried by presiding judge Patti Saris, who found “no evidence” that Neurontin was effective for several off-label indications.  The judge found that Neurontin was no more effective than placebo for several indications that were off-label, including bipolar disorder, migraines, general neuropathic pain and at doses greater than 1800mg per day.  Greene LLP argued that in putting profits ahead of safety, Pfizer put thousands of people at risk – Neurontin has been linked to depression and suicide, but was marketed to one population particularly vulnerable to both: individuals with bipolar disorder.

In addition to holding Pfizer accountable for a decade of illegal, fraudulent off-label marketing and resulting prescriptions, the verdicts also blazed a trail for other off-label marketing cases.  The Kaiser trial is believed to be the first time that a non-governmental party has successfully sued a pharmaceutical company for fraudulent off-label promotion practices.

In concert with its False Claims Act practice, Greene LLP has a national reputation for off-label promotion cases against pharmaceutical companies.  Thomas M. Greene frequently presents on pharmaceutical marketing practices, to attorneys and academics and also to the medical community.  In 2004, Greene LLP attorneys successfully resolved a False Claims Act case filed in 1996 over off-label promotion of Neurontin, which was the first False Claims Act settlement for a case alleging off-label marketing of drugs and which was pursued without government intervention.  Since that settlement of $430 million in civil penalties and criminal fines, the government has recovered more than $7 billion in False Claims Act off-label promotion cases.

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