Pfizer Inc., which happens to be the world's largest drug maker, will have to pay a record $2.3 billion civil and criminal penalty over illegal
prescription drug promotions, the Justice Department announced today (Wednesday, September 02, 2009).
The Justice Department said the $2.3 billion settlement included a $1.2 billion criminal fine, which is the largest criminal fine of any kind
in U.S. history. The settlement also included a criminal forfeiture of $105 million.
"Combating health care fraud is one of this administration's top priorities," Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli said in
announcing the settlement. He said it illustrates ways the department "can help the American public at a time when budgets are tight and
health care costs are rising."
The government said the company promoted four prescription drugs, including the pain killer Bextra, as treatments for medical
conditions completely different from those the drugs had been approved for by federal regulators at the Food and Drug Administration
Use of drugs for so-called "off-label" medical conditions is not uncommon, but drug manufacturers are totally prohibited from marketing
drugs for uses that have not been approved by the FDA.
A Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia and Upjohn Inc., which was acquired in 2003, has entered an additional whereby they will also plead
guilty to one count of felony misbranding.
While this is most certainly good news, no one will be going to prison for these illegal acts and Pfizer’s outlook continues to be quite
careless and irresponsible in line with their “cost of doing business” type attitude. "These agreements bring final closure to significant
legal matters and help to enhance our focus on what we do best — discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines to treat
patients dealing with some of the world's most debilitating diseases," said Amy W. Schulman, senior vice president and general counsel
At the bottom of their illegal marketing and promotions, authorities said Pfizer's sales people fabricated phony doctor requests for
medical information in order to send unsolicited information to doctors about unapproved uses and dosages.
Justice officials discussed details of the deal at a news conference with FBI, federal prosecutors, and Health and Human Services
In financial filings in January, the company had indicated that it would pay $2.3 billion over allegations it had marketed the pain reliever
Bextra and possibly other drugs for medical conditions different than their approved use. The settlement announced Wednesday also
covered Pfizer's promotions of three other drugs: Geodon, an anti-psychotic, Zyvox, an antibiotic, and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic.
Under terms of the settlement, Pfizer must pay $1 billion to compensate Medicaid, Medicare, and other federal healthcare programs.
Some of that money will be shared among the states: New York, for example, will receive $66 million, according to the state's attorney
general, Andrew Cuomo.
"Pfizer ripped off New Yorkers and taxpayers across the country to pad its bottom line," Cuomo said. "Pfizer's corrupt practices went so
far as sending physicians on exotic junkets as well as wining and dining health care professionals to persuade them to prescribe the
company's drugs for patients in taxpayer-funded programs."
What YOU need to know:
Pharmaceutical companies set aside significantly large amounts of money, in advance, to readily cover the costs of law suits and legal
settlements. This is their “cost of doing business” attitude which has worked for many years. For example; if a new product being
launched is estimated to make $20+ billion dollars in sales revenue then several billion dollars are set aside just to cover the laws suits
whether criminal or civil. The settlement set asides are almost treated like routine marketing expenses.
No one is held personally accountable although sufficient documentation is routinely found during trial disclosure procedures
demonstrating illegal acts were known about or planned in advance. THIS is what needs to be changed! Executives involved need to be
held accountable and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
People are all too frequently and irrevocable damaged physically and mentally from poorly tested and marketed “wonder” drugs. All too
many murders and suicides are committed under the influence of these “wonder” drugs and all that happens is a slap on the wrist and
pay offs made from drug company settlement set asides.
To give some kind of perspective; if a local policeman shoots or harms someone whether accidentally or intentionally during the course
of a confrontation, entire communities often rise to demand unbiased investigations and full justice. The law enforcement officer is
routinely held accountable and sometimes even the entire town or city is forced to review and change policies as well as compensate
individuals and family members of the victims involved.
How is it that companies who produce chemical and mind altering drugs, known to threaten outrageous side effects who are then found
to fabricate their benefits, confuse and bury information on side effects are left with so little accountability?
THIS HAS TO CHANGE!
Contact your government representatives. While large cash settlements may APPEAR to balance the harm and injustice that befall drug
company victims - it does not. The actual PEOPLE involved in illegal and in this particular case – felony level crime for the purpose of
selling drugs should be held accountable for their crimes. No amount of money makes this right. The sheer volume of exposes, civil and
criminal law suits proves this out. It has not stopped the continued falsifications and illegal marketing practices. Meanwhile more and
more people fall victim.
You can help bring an end to this. Let your own government reps know your own thoughts.
GOVERMENT CONTACTS: http://www.winhs.org/contactgov.htm
All the best,
Rudi C. Loehwing
World Institute of Natural Health Sciences
|The "Business" of Drugs: Pharma Giant Pfizer to pay record
$2.3B penalty over corrupt and illegal promotions
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