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Pfizer Settles Fraudulent Marketing Claims for $2.3B Fine

  • Written by: AboutLawsuits
  • 9 Comments

To resolve criminal and civil claims over the illegal marketing of the recalled painkiller Bextra and other drugs, Pfizer has agreed to pay $2.3 billion. It is the fourth Pfizer settlement relating to illegal marketing of their products since 2002, and includes the largest criminal fine in U.S. history.

The deal between the pharmaceutical company and the U.S. Justice Department includes a $1.195 billion criminal fine to resolve claims that they promoted drugs for uses that were not approved by the FDA or established as safe and effective. The drug maker will also pay another $1 billion in civil penalties and make a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Pfizer settlement concludes a four-year investigation into the practices of the world’s largest drug company. The investigation was brought about after whistleblowers from several states filed lawsuits that alleged Pfizer was defrauding government health programs due to its illegal marketing practices. Under the terms of the deal, six whistleblowers will share in more than $100 million of the settlement.

Bextra (valdecoxib) was approved by FDA in 1991 for the treatment of arthritis and menstrual cramps. However, Pfizer marketed the drug to doctors for the treatment of acute pain, which was an “off-label” use. While doctors can prescribe drugs for non-approved uses, it is illegal for drug companies to market them that way. A Bextra recall was issued in April 2005 after it was found that it increased the risk of heart attack, stroke and a serious, potentially fatal skin reaction known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Government prosecutors say that Pfizer marketed Bextra for uses that would require larger doses even after learning that the health risks of the drug increased with dosage. Prosecutors said that Pfizer also provided doctors with kickbacks and incentives including paying doctors for weekend meetings in resort locations. The government also accused Pfizer of illegally marketing the epilepsy drug Neurontin, the antipsychotic Geodon, and several other drugs.

The felony plea will be made by Pfizer subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn over its marketing of Bextra specifically. Pfizer has not admitted guilt in any of the civil charges brought against it by whistleblowers, although it is settling with them.

The “corporate integrity” settlement Pfizer is signing is a pledge of good behavior with the government, agreeing to reform its marketing practices. It is the third such pledge Pfizer has made in less than ten years. It signed an agreement in 2002 over its marketing of Lipitor, and again in 2004 over marketing practices for Neurontin.

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9 comments

  1. Tammy Reply

    Is the patients that were affected by pfizer meds going to get any help?

  2. A.N. Reply

    Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the consequences to the company after their first and third strike are the same???? It seems that these “corporate integrity settlements” and “agreement” aren’t worth much. Perhaps the government could take a more stern approach with “the world’s largest drug company” that treats our health as an irrelevant and inconvenient obstacle in its grand scheme of money-making. What is $2Bil to them, when they already made hundreds?

  3. Bre Reply

    So if Jane and John Q Public can find out that these drugs are NOT to be used how they were being marketed, WHY aren’t the doctors looking at it before they prescribe them. Slap their hands too, for poor medical practices. And punish them too so that the kickbacks become a thing of the past. I just removed my mother from a nursing home in N.M. that had her on GEODON which is posted on every web site NOT to be used for seniors over 65 or with dementia, both of which she is. And this was just one of 14 drugs, none of which should have been mixed. Displayed every side effect listed, and the doctors just kept adding more drugs.
    Now I’m being told “what are the damages?” because she’s still alive.

  4. John Reply

    16, June 08 awoke 7AM with severe pain Rt. hand for no reason, no injury of any type. Age 64, owner/president of one man pest control Co. working very lightly at abt. 4 days a mo. Finally went to se my family Dr. Anke Robinson 19020 Fort St. Riverview, MI 48192 & she gave me samples of Bextra for the pain/swelling to take one pill a day. Pain & swelling continued so went to see Dr. State an associate of Dr. Robinson. Dr. State told me to take two pills a day. Pain & swelling continued & went to see Dr. Robinson due to waking uo July 8th 03 with swollen face, tongue swollen with rash & hard to swallow, severe rash over my whole body & in my eyes that iitched like poison ivy. Saw Dr. Robinson the next day & told her what Dr. State told me to increase the dose to two a day & she said “Oh shit, he knows better than that”. All this time sleeping was near impossible because of the constant itching. Dr. Robinson had me quit taking the Bextra and gave me a new Rx. But the pain & swelling, headache, itching continued even the rash increased into my anus. I was totally miserable. This same day the rash entered my mouth and was hard to eat anything but soft foods. This continued daily till july 25, 03 when I noticed the itching lesening a bit. This condition continued til I noticed my tongue sewlling lessening on August 1ts, 03, but now the rash was starting to turn into bloches & still itching. This condition lasted till September 16th 03.

  5. Jacob Reply

    Having been forcibly medicated with Geodon, my mind is broken and body convulses every now and then when it didn’t before. To my friends at Pfizer: Thanks, keep up the good work! There is no settlement that will still my rage. It’s all I think about. It’s what I dream about. Geodon is a horrible debilitating drug. I could die from old age or from one of their medications in a nursing home or… Someone should do something about these creatures living off the misery and death of others. They tried to kill me, you think I want money?

  6. JC Reply

    I find it odd that Pfizer agrees to pay the money, and it has been 7 years and no check in the mail. And I may as well written this of TP and flushed it

  7. Teresa T Reply

    I wish to God in Heaven that he’d of given the Dept of Justice Officials /(U.S Attorney Eric Holder ex Pfizer employee yourself) !!!!the same brain I have,because for the love of me, If I went out and held a gun to someone’s head and told them that the bullet in it would not hurt them and they believed me and trusted me to pull the trigger and I did,
    and then they obvisiouly died,I would be stripped of the Gun,be put on trial for Murder in the first degree….
    It’s just like them IDIOTS in congress that had MR.Toyoda sitting right there and did not order every single Toyota off the hiways of America Right NOW! we are all sitting ducks,I swear if I get hit by one of them runaway toyota’s I’ll sue the pants off my own Congressman and the U.S. Government for allowing another toyota to even be sold…and still on the road !!!!
    So why in God’s blessed name, would I want Mr. Pfizer(greedy coorporate fool) to still be selling any Perscription drug anywhere on this planet I do not,and would not allow it !!
    And I’d put him in jail and on the same dam dose I was on ,attempted murder is attempted murder.And the folks whom did kill themselves on this product,their blood is on your greedy ass name too!!!
    The U.S. Department of Justice needs to have some family members be former victims of Pfizer,then maybe they would grow some balls and prosecute and put them in jail,stop making plea deals,meanwhile, I’ll loan you mine !!!!

  8. Carlton Reply

    I have been taking the drug neurontin and the various ulcer, heartburn meds from prilosic, previcd, etc. I constantly feel as though something is crawling on me, and I etch all the time. I suffered ssevere bactrial infections over the past year, stomach pains, suicidal thoughts, and unexplained pains in my chest, stomach, and bleeding. I didn’t know why this was happening to me, and no doctor indicated it could be from any of the drugs they were prescribing me.

  9. Toni Reply

    So… this company is still pushing off label use. I was prescribed rapamune/sirolimus due to cyclosporine damaging my kidneys. I suffered many bad, bad side effects and lots of loss of money. I want to be in a class action suit against them, but can’t find one. Obviously they are still getting away with this. I feel like I was a human guinea pig at my expense.

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