Foreign intrigue: when drug companies bribe doctors

Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug company (at least until their blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor truly loses its patent protection for real) has reached a legal agreement in principle to resolve a foreign bribery investigation. A final deal could be struck by the end of the month, according to an SEC filing reported on Pharmalot. Three months ago, Pfizer officials said they had “voluntarily” provided information about “potentially improper payments” made by unspecified Pfizer and its Wyeth subsidiaries in connection with sales activities “in countries other than the U.S.”

The other countries were not named.

The move, as described by Pharmalot, comes amid increased scrutiny by the U.S. government into the pharmaceutical industry and its interactions with foreign health care systems.

“In late 2009, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division warned drugmakers that there will be more criminal enforcement against interactions with foreign officials as they seek violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).”

And he apparently meant it.  Continue reading