I continue to be amazed at the depths to which some drug companies will stoop to make a dollar (okay, so it’s more like a few billion dollars).Â Just yesterday Bloomberg reported that Pfizer agreed to a $1.2 billion criminal fine (the largest in U.S. history) and a felony plea by a subsidiary to settle Justice Department charges that Pfizer was guilty of fraud in marketing drugs.Â The $1.2 billion was merely part of the total $2.3 billion in fines that Pfizer agreed to pay.Â Oh yeah, Pfizer also entered into a five- year “integrity agreement” with the Health and Human Services Department as well.
Why in the world does the world’s largest drug manufacturer have to sign an “integrity agreement?”Â Maybe it’s because it’s the settlement was the fourth with Pfizer or a subsidiary since 2002. The previous three agreements settled criminal or civil charges involving distribution and marketing or Lipitor, Neurontin and Genotropin and resulted in combined payments of $513 million.
Then today, BNET reports that the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging released a study showing that Forest Labs budgeted $100,000 for ghostwriting articles about its antidepressant Lexapro.Â The Justice Department sued Forest in February for allegedly promoting its anti-depressants for children without FDA approval, and paying kickbacks to doctors to encourage prescriptions.Â BNET also reported that Forest expected to pay about $100,000 to get Emory University on its payroll.
The New York Times reported that Forest wanted 2,000 docs on its payroll, at about $17,350 each.Â The Times reported that a Forest document said “the company planned to spend $34.7 million to pay 2,000 psychiatrists and primary care doctors to deliver 15,000 marketing lectures to their peers in one year.”
I’ve represented injured consumers, and the families of deceased consumers, who have been victimized by Big Pharma’s greed, so I’m not shocked that drug companies are willing to sell drugs that harm and kill people in order to make money.Â I’ve always believed that if you’re willing to do that, then you’ll probably lie, cheat and steal to make money.Â I’ll admit to being surprised, however, that medical integrity sells for only $17,500.