Pfizer Paid for Doc's Helicopter in Off-Label Geodon Push, Suit Claims

Last Updated Sep 17, 2009 12:17 PM EDT

Pfizer paid a doctor $4,000 a day to promote the antipsychotic Geodon and expensed his use of a private helicopter to get to off-label speaking events, according a whistleblower lawsuit that was part of the $2.3 billion Bextra settlement.

Pfizer said in a statement:

Pfizer denies all federal, state and qui tam allegations, with two exceptions. We acknowledge certain improper actions related to the past promotion of Bextra and Zyvox. Beyond those two exceptions we deny all federal and state and qui tam claims.
The suit was brought by Mark R. Westlock of Fenton, Mo., was a rep for Pfizer from 1991 to 2007, when he claims he was forced to resign. (Download Westlock v. Pfizer here.) He alleges that Dr. Neil S. Kaye of Wilmington, Del., an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College, received $4,000 a day in speaker fees to talk to other doctors about "the off label use of Geodon® in adolescents," among other issues. He was used so frequently by Pfizer that he was flown by 'copter to some of his gigs, Westlock claims:

(Click to enlarge.) The top image is from Kaye's own website. He details his interest in helicopters here and here and here.

Some of Kaye's material was sent to Pfizer pharmaceutical sales representatives under the heading "take home selling points." The material within that package was also labelled "do not detail," ostensibly because it covered off-label material. But Westlock claims that everyone knew they were to use it in their sales pitches because the email would not have been titled "take home selling points" if they were not in fact selling points.