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Vaccine-maker Pfizer sued by red state’s attorney general

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a nasal spray developed by Pfizer.(Dreamstime/TNS)
November 22, 2023

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Pfizer and Tris Pharma, a drug manufacturing company owned by Pfizer, for allegedly “defrauding the Texas Medicaid program” by giving “adulterated pharmaceutical drugs,” which the company knew were ineffective, to children in Texas.

The lawsuit, which was unsealed Monday, accuses Pfizer, Tris Pharma, and Tris CEO Ketan Mehta of “defrauding” the state in order to have Quillivant XR, an ADHD medicine, listed as one of the state’s preferred drugs through the state’s Medicaid insurance program for people with low incomes. 

According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the drug failed to meet quality standards successfully.

Paxton argued that Pfizer and Tris Pharma “continually” engaged in efforts to manipulate quality-test results between 2012 and 2018 to receive Medicaid reimbursement for Quillivant XR.

“For years, Tris altered the drug’s testing method in violation of federal and state laws to ensure Quillivant passed regulatory hurdles and could continue to be sold,” the attorney general’s press release stated. “Despite knowing about these serious problems, Pfizer misrepresented to the Medicaid program that Quillivant was in compliance with federal and state law.”

READ MORE: Texas bans businesses from requiring Covid vaccine

“I am horrified by the dishonesty we uncovered in this investigation,” Paxton said. “Pfizer and Tris intentionally concealed and failed to disclose the issues with Quillivant to receive taxpayer-funded benefits through Texas Medicaid, defrauding the state and endangering children. Our Civil Medicaid Fraud Division has done an outstanding job holding these pharmaceutical companies accountable.” 

According to Fox Business, Paxton claims that Pfizer distributed Quillivant to Texas children despite flawed practices in the manufacturing of the drug and knowing that the drug had failed quality control tests.

“At no point did Defendants warn Texas Medicaid providers or decision-makers that Quillivant had known manufacturing issues affecting its efficacy, thereby depriving the Medicaid program of the crucial information it relies on.… As a result, thousands of Texas children received an adulterated Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance,” Paxton’s filing noted.

Additionally, Paxton claimed that multiple Texas families complained about Quillivant’s ineffectiveness between 2012 and 2018.

Reuters reported that the attorney general’s lawsuit, which was filed in Harrison County, Texas District Court, came as the result of a whistleblower complaint by Tarik Ahmed, who previously worked as the head of technology for Tris Pharma from 2013 to 2017.

According to Reuters, Quillivant XR was developed by Nextwave Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2012.

Through Paxton’s lawsuit against Pfizer and Tris Pharma, the state is requesting monetary payments equal to any monetary or in-kind benefits the companies received as a result of the alleged violations, according to Fox Business. The state is also pushing for additional civil penalties against the two companies.