The big news is that the first trial of Pfizer’s anti-epilepsy drug Neurontin started on July 27 and quickly ended yesterday. The reports are that the case was dropped after an anonymous donor (a non-involved plaintiff’s lawyer) offered to put money in a trust for the 10-year-old daughter of Susan Bulger. The Plaintiffs assert that Mrs. Bulger committed suicide in 2004 because of Neurontin.
The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog commented on the Neurontin trial when it started on the 27th. The blog’s author, Attorney Ron Miller, also commented that the attorney trying the case was set to be Mark Lanier, of recent Vioxx fame (among many other things).
So, this dismissal is a little perplexing. Pfizer did not pay anything for the dismissal. Certainly, this case was difficult in light of reports of earlier attempts of suicide by Mrs. Bulger, and potential drug abuse. It could be that Neurontin plaintiffs’ attorneys did not want the first tried case to be one they lost (or were at significant risk of losing)—there is power in having a strong case and a plaintiffs’ verdict first thing. It is difficult to not speculate. One news report says the donor didn’t want Mrs. Bulger’s child to have to go through the trial, which is of course a harrowing process. But, the important thing is that the family makes the decision voluntarily, and kudos to the “Anonymous Attorney” for helping them out.
But, the case did not end before the testimony of a former Pfizer marketing employee, which revealed that the company illegally marketed the drug to doctors for unapproved uses. So, now we wait for the next trial (of about 1,200 cases), scheduled for March 29.