Monday, December 17, 2012

Doing It Again, After Promising Not To--Pfizer's Amazing Record

Once again I can kick back and let the nice folks over at Health Care Renewal do all the heavy lifting:

I want to highlight several things reported in that post that pick up on themes previously discussed here.

Dr. Roy Poses tracked down a couple of recent Federal settlements involving Pfizer. These settlements did not get much media attention--in one case Dr. Poses could not even find any details about what the company supposedly did wrong--and the amounts of the settlements are chickenfeed compared to earlier numbers, less than $100M each. So I won't even go to the trouble to do my usual scorecard of latest Pharma fraud judgments.

What does matter, and as Dr. Poses noted, was not mentioned at all in the very limited media coverage, was Pfizer's overall track record of paying settlements due to alleged or admitted illegal behavior. As he has reconstructed it, and he admits he might have missed a few things, it looks like this since the turn of the century:
  • 2002: Pfizer and affiliates Warner-Lambert and Parke-Davis, $49M, failure to pay proper federal and state rebates for Lipitor
  • 2004: Pfizer and affiliate Warner-Lambert, $430M, off-label promotion of Neurontin
  • 2007: Pfizer and affiliate Pharmacia & Upjohn, $35M, illegal kickbacks to promote Genotropin
  • 2009: Pfizer, $2.3B, illegal marketing of Bextra
  • 2010: Jury finds Pfizer guilty of violation of anti-racketeering statute for marketing of Neurontin, assesses $142M damages
  • 2010: Another case, no details provided
  • 2011: Pfizer affiliate Pharmacia, settlement with New York for overcharging
  • 2011: Pfizer and affiiliate Quigley settle class action suit for $265M over asbestos exposure
  • 2011: Pfizer, $14.5M, illegal marketing of Detrol
  • 2012: Pfizer, $60M, allegations of subsidiaries bribing foreign government officials
  • 2012: Pfizer and subsidiary Wyeth, $55M, illegal marketing of Protonix
  • 2012: Pfizer, $43M paid to 33 states, illegal marketing of Zyvox and Lyrica

As Dr. Poses (and previous posts here) have noted, several of these settlements involed promises by Pfizer that it had learned its lesson and would not do those sorts of things again. They obviously did learn their lesson, which is that you can do these sorts of things again, pay your fine, and keep merrily toting up all the profits.

Dr. Poses then appropriately juxtaposes these recent small-potatoes judgments against Pfizer with two larger events. The one you may have heard of is the scandal involving the monster British bank HSBC, found to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels, and to have helped numerous bad guys around the world dodge international sanctions. As the New York Times opined in an editorial:
--the Feds's failuire to indict any top executives of this bank shows that "the government has bought into the notion that too big to fail is too big to jail."

The other event that you probably never heard about was the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference, sponsored by Transparency International, in Brasilia, which led to the Brasilia Declaration decrying the failure of governments to properly punish corrupt officials. Without such punishment, said the group, don't expect any reduction in corrupt practices:

As I have previously blogged:
--it's naive to imagine that corruption is something that happens in poor nations on the other side of the globe, when we have splendid examples of corporate corruption cropping up all over the US and Europe. So the rules for what needs to be done to thwart corruption should be applied here first and foremost.

No comments: