Business briefs

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 06:37 PM

Pfizer to pay NC $1.35 million in settlement

Pfizer will pay $42.9 million to North Carolina and 32 other states to resolve allegations the drug maker used unfair and deceptive practices to unlawfully promote its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica, according to a news release from Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office.

Cooper and other attorneys general alleged that Pfizer marketed Zyvox, an antibacterial agent, as superior to another antibiotic also used to treat MRSA infections, without substantial evidence that it’s superior for some other uses the company was claiming.

They also alleged that Lyrica, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat certain kinds of nerve pain, seizures and fibromyalgia, was marketed for off-label, or non-approved, uses. 

While doctors can prescribe drugs off-label, it’s illegal for a drug maker to market its drugs for uses that haven’t been approved by the FDA, according to Cooper’s office.

Pfizer agreed not to promote its products for off-label uses, and not to make false, misleading or deceptive claims when comparing the efficacy or safety of Zyvox to vancomycin, according to Cooper’s office.

The company will design financial incentives to ensure marketing personnel are not motivated to market Zyvox or Lyrica improperly, and will notify its sales force of any FDA warning letters that affects their promotion of Pfizer products.

Pfizer will pay $42.9 million to the participating states, including about $1.35 million to North Carolina for consumer protection purposes. Under an additional settlement reached by Cooper’s office, Pfizer will pay $421,325.34 to the NC State Health Plan and $7,431.66 to the state prison system.

Durham County topped ‘Fourth Economy’ ranking

PITTSBURGH, Pa. —Durham topped a ranking of large counties that listed the communities based on their ability to attract modern investment and manage economic growth, according to a news release.

The “Fourth Economy Community Index” was created last yaer by Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting, an economic development firm.

The index is intended to serve as a measure for community stakeholders to gauge their capacity to attract and retain modern investment, the release states.

The FEC Index considers measures in five areas: investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity.

Durham County led the large county index. It was cited as being “ahead of the game” when it comes to research and development, as well as the home to one of the nation’s most competitive universities, the Research Triangle Park and large technology companies. It was also mentioned for its efforts in attracting entrepreneurs.

NC’s Blue Cross announces new products

CHAPEL HILL -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced Wednesday new insurance products that it said are for “cost-conscious health care consumers” in the Triangle.

A plan called Blue Value, which is available for businesses, and for individuals next year, relies on a smaller network of doctors and hospitals, according to a news release.

The insurer said it could lower costs for the plan by working with UNC Health Care, REX Healthcare, WakeMed Health and Hospitals and Key Physicians, to reduce the price of coverage. Initially, the plan will be sold across the state except in the Charlotte region.

The insurer said additional premium savings were found through a cost-saving plan for prescription drugs.

The second plan, called Blue Select, is a “tiered benefit” plan for employers. The insurer put its in-network hospitals and selected specialists into two tiers based on quality, cost efficiency and accessibility factors. For the first tier, consumers pay less in out-of-pocket costs.

The insurer said additional premium savings were found through a cost-saving plan for prescription drugs.