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Pfizer settles whistle-blower suit

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WASHINGTON—Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc. has agreed to pay $14.5 million to resolve whistle-blower claims related to its alleged improper marketing of the drug Detrol, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The settlement with the New York-based pharmaceutical firm, which was announced this month, resolves the last of 10 whistle-blower suits that date back to 2003.

The other nine suits were settled or dismissed in 2009 as part of a combined civil and criminal resolution of claims against Pfizer.

As part of those settlements, the pharmaceutical firm agreed to pay $2.3 billion to resolve civil claims as well as criminal charges regarding multiple drugs, according to the Justice Department.

The latest settlement involves charges that Pfizer illegally marketed Detrol, a drug that is used to treat overactive bladders in male patients suffering from an enlarged prostate and several allied conditions—notably lower urinary tract symptoms and bladder outlet obstruction.

None of the uses had received Food and Drug Administration approval.

“Whistle-blowers play an important role in protecting taxpayer funds from fraud and abuse,” Tony West, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil division. “Settlements like this one help maintain the integrity of FDA's drug approval process and support important federal and state health care programs.”

Of the $14.5 million settlement, $11.8 million will be recovered by the federal government and $2.6 million recovered by the Massachusetts Medicaid program.

Whistle-blowers will receive a share of the federal recovery totaling $3.2 million, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

A Pfizer spokesman could not be reached for comment.