Pfizer fined for code breach

The separate complaints resulted in fines of $35,000 and $10,000 respectively and orders to cease using the misleading claims.

The $35,000 fine was imposed for claims about celecoxib contained on the cover of promotional material that implied osteoarthritis caused other conditions, including depression, sleep disorders, neuropathic pain and musculoskeletal pain. The complaint was made by a health professional.

Initially Pfizer was also found to be in breach of the code on another count, for a comparison to oral opioid analgesics. An $85,000 fine was imposed for the two breaches.

Pfizer successfully appealed and the breach relating to the comparison with oral opioid analgesics was overturned. 

However, a majority of the appeals committee agreed the material suggested there was a causal relationship between osteoarthritis and the comorbidities, and that treatment with celecoxib would reduce the effects,