Pfizer Fined a Record Sum $2.3B for Unethical Marketing
By Marat Gaziev
Published on September 03, 2009
Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies agrees to pay a record sum of $2.3 billion to settle criminal and civil liability related to the illegal promotion if its drug Bextra.
The drug was promoted for off-label uses and in doses not approved by the FDA. Pfizer will also pay $33 million to settle civil consumer protection allegations concerning Geodon, a drug used to treat acute manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder.
US associate attorney-general Thomas Perrelli released a statement, saying "When a drug is marketed or promoted for non-authorized, so-called off-label uses, any use not approved by the FDA as was the case here, public health may be at risk"
Allegedly, Pfizer paid kickbacks to doctors for prescribing its drugs after the FDA refused approval because of patient safety concerns.
According to John Kopchinski, a former Pfizer sales representative, the company held consultant meetings in exotic locations and paid physicians over $1,500 to attend.
Six whistleblowers who played a paramount role in exposing the unethical marketing practices will share more than $102 million.
Earlier today, Kathleen Sebelius the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, called the Pfizer settlement "historic", and hopes that it will curb the illegal marketing techniques and force the drug companies to consider ethics over profits.