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Pfizer settles U.S. marketing case related to Rapamune

People walk past the Pfizer Inc. headquarters in New York, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People walk past the Pfizer Inc. headquarters in New York, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc will pay $490.9 million to resolve accusations of illegal marketing of the drug Rapamune dating to Pfizer's 2009 acquisition of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Wyeth trained its national Rapamune sales force to promote the use of the drug in situations not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prosecutors said.

Pfizer disclosed the settlement on a preliminary basis in a November 2012 securities filing. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City unsealed the final court papers on Tuesday.

"Wyeth's conduct put profits ahead of the health and safety of a highly vulnerable patient population dependent on life-sustaining therapy," FDA Special Agent in Charge Antoinette Henry said in a statement.

Rapamune was approved in 1999 for use in kidney transplants to help keep the body's immune system from rejecting the new organ, but prosecutors said Wyeth encouraged its sales force to target all kinds of transplants.

The sales in question ended in July 2006, Pfizer said in a statement.

"Pfizer was not a subject or target of this matter, and cooperated fully with the government from the time it learned of this investigation in October 2009," the company said.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernard Orr)

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