That bad smell is the stench of yet another pharmaceutical company getting caught red-handed with their fingers in your wallet. If the folks at Pfizer Inc. had mugged you in the street and threatened your life, they’d all be in jail. But because they can afford a legal team that O.J. Simpson would have envied, they get off with a settlement of $2.3 billion.
That penalty seems small, however, compared to the $44.2 billion in pharmaceutical sales that the world’s largest drugmaker rang up last year.
Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown University acknowledges that, while $2.3 billion is a lot of money,
“…but these are highly profitable drugs. It will not take them very long to make up that deficit. Drug companies will continue this unless the financial downside makes it unprofitable.”
Pfizer has agreed to pay this penalty to settle charges that it illegally marketed the pain drug Bextra and three other medicines for so-called ‘off label’ uses that were not approved by the Food & Drug Administration. It’s the largest health care fraud settlement in the U.S. Justice Department’s history. Continue reading