Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, agreed to settle the New York Attorney General’s investigation into its alleged deceptive advertising of its copayment coupon program.
On Thursday, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said Pfizer agreed to pay $500,000 in penalties, fees, and costs. The U.S. pharmaceutical giant also agreed to pay over $200,000 in restitution for New York consumers.
The Health Care Bureau of the Attorney General’s office investigated Pfizer’s business and advertising practices for its “PAY NO MORE THAN” drug copayment card program.
As part of the program, the pharmaceutical giant told consumers that they will “pay no more than” $15 or $20 for certain drugs. However, they ended up paying significantly more at the pharmacy.
New York Attorney General’s allegations against Pfizer
The Attorney General’s office alleged that Pfizer deceptively promoted its copayment program for its Estring, Quillivant XR, Quillichew ER, and Flector Patch products. It did not clearly and conspicuously disclose the material terms and conditions of its drug copayment card program.
In a statement, Underwood said, “Pfizer misled customers by promising low copay for prescription drugs – only to leave them with major bills at the cash register. Now, they must take responsibility and provide restitution to the New Yorkers they deceived.”
Additionally, she stressed that her office will “continue to investigate companies that mislead and deceive New Yorkers.”
Underwood launched an investigation into Pfizer’s marketing practices of its copayment coupons after receiving a complaint from a consumer. That consumer reported that she obtained a deceptive Estring copayment coupon, which included the language “PAY NO MORE THAN $15.” However, when she presented the coupon at the pharmacy register, she ended up paying $114.62.
Under the settlement, New York consumers are eligible to receive restitution for the amount of their copayment that exceeded the PAY NO MORE THAN amount listed on the copayment coupon. The restitution applies to their first use of the drug copayment card program.
Early this year, Pfizer changed the text of its copayment coupons for Estring, Quillivant, and Flector Patch. The new text explains that patients could “pay as little as” a listed amount.