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Paul Zimmerman

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Pfizer Settles With New York Attorney General Over "Pay No More Than" Claims

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer probably wishes it had to “pay no more than” $15 to settle allegations brought by the New York Attorney General, but actual penalties recently levied against the company by the AG are quite a bit steeper.

The settlement in question stems from Pfizer deceptively marketing a copayment coupon program. The problematic copayment coupons stated in large, clear text that eligible consumers would “PAY NO MORE THAN” $15 or $20 out-of-pocket for certain drugs. This was untrue. In fact, consumers frequently paid significantly more than the amounts advertised on the coupons because prearranged limits on total savings were not prominently disclosed. Indeed, Pfizer allowed the coupons to be distributed to consumers without clearly and conspicuously setting forth the promotions’ material terms and conditions. As a consequence, at least one person who believed a prescription would cost “no more than” $15 ended up paying nearly $145 at a pharmacy cash register.

In response to a complaint, the AG began an investigation, after which Pfizer agreed to change the text of its copayment coupons so that they state that patients can “pay as little as” the amounts listed. The settlement did not stop at that. Pfizer must also pay $500,000 in penalties, fees and costs to the State of New York, as well as over $200,000 in restitution to consumers. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has once again made clear that deception comes at a price.

This blog post is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.