Pfizer warns UK MDs: Lyrica is still on patent for pain
- The Wall Street Journal's Ed Silverman reports that, although Pfizer's patent on Lyrica (pregabalin) for treatment of epilepsy and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) expired last July, the company is still policing its patent on use of Lyrica for treating pain. In fact, Pfizer has taken the unusual step of penning a letter directly to physicians in the UK reminding them of that fact.
- Pfizer asserts that use of generic pregabalin for treatment of pain is patent infringement.
- Pfizer expressed its concerns—citing the issue as legal and not clinical—to the NHS and the UK Department of Health, as well as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The company did not send letters directly to individual physicians.
Although it is not clear how Pfizer plans to enforce patent infringement against individual physicians, the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) maintains that prescribing generic pregabalin for pain would be "off label and may infringe the patent," according to the WSJ.
However, some doctors plan to continue prescribing generic pregabalin, despite the letters, setting up a showdown that may foretell legal action down the road.