Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pfizer's $2.3 Billion Fine Sends Clear Message: Corporations Can Buy Their Way Out

Pfizer paid $2.3 billion relative to illegal promotion of Bextra and twelve other medications. The government assessed a $1.3 billion criminal fine, while a $1 billion civil penalty made fraud charges disappear. There was no examination of patients harmed by Pfizer's practice. This closes the case. It contains a five year corporate integrity agreement. Which law firms will make huge money off that?

The pharmaceutical industry paid over $11 billion in fines and settlements the last decade. How many pharma executives spent time in jail? Very, very few. This is Pfizer's fourth legal settlement during that period. Note that Pfizer previously committed to corporate integrity agreements. That commitment produced a record penalty, larger than Columbia/HCA's $1.7 billion fine.

The Pfizer announcement occurrs in the midst of a heated health care debate. The White House negotiated with the pharmaceutical industry in reforming health care. In a recent interview, White House Health Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle referred to pharma as "our industry." Does that mean unethical partners and insiders reassemble health care pieces in back room deals? To what end?

Corporations can buy their way out, as well as in. What a lesson for our children to learn...

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