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July 23, 2012 / Admin

CAUGHT! Pharmaceutical Giant Pfizer, Pays Record Fine for Defrauding YOU

In the largest settlement in United States Justice Department history, Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle claims of misbranding and off-label marketing of a number of its pharmaceutical products.  While the settlement covered 13 different drugs manufactured by Pfizer and its various subsidiaries including Pharmacia & Upjohn, the primary focus was on the conduct related to the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra, which was withdrawn from the market in 2005 amid reports of increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a potentially fatal skin disease.

The investigation of Pfizer and its questionable marketing practices was initiated as the result of whistleblowers inside the company. Sales representatives drew the line at attempts to increase profits when those sales meant risking the lives of the drug consumers. One would hope that a settlement of this magnitude would cause a major philosophical change in the way the drug companies do business in the future, but that prospect is unlikely because of the sheer profits to be made in this industry. Pfizer reported revenues of $48.3 billion in its latest annual review and had reserved funds to cover this settlement in 2008.

An ‘agreement’ to plead guilty to a felony charge and pay $2.3 billion ($1.3 billion in fines, and an additional $1 billion to state and federal authorities to resolve civil allegations of fraud) might present a public relations nightmare, but Pfizer did not blink. Citing their dedication to healing and better health, a Pfizer spokesperson stated they were proud of the actions they have taken to strengthen their internal controls to comply with state and federal laws regulating their practices.   Pfizer also stated that corporate integrity is a top priority for the company and the conclusion of this matter allows Pfizer to focus on what they do best.

What they do best according to Mike Loucks, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, is blatantly disregard the law. While negotiating yet another agreement to resolve criminal conduct of Warner-Lambert, its newly acquired subsidiary, Pfizer was itself violating the same laws. Attributing unproven beneficial aspects to certain products while concealing potentially fatal risks, and bribing doctors are criminal activities, yet no one went to jail. There is no personal accountability here, which is why we will see this type of behavior repeated by other pharmaceutical companies.

 

 

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