Wednesday, September 02, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) For the last several years, I’ve referred to drug companies as “criminal” operations. They have engaged in price fixing, marketing fraud, science fraud and many other criminal activities that we’ve written about here on NaturalNews. And yet, until today, they always managed to avoid the criminal charges by settling with the government for a few million dollars in payouts. This was their racket: Violate the law, then when you get caught, just settle with some cash. (And there’s always some spare cash to go around since fraudulent science and fraudulent marketing is very, very lucrative.)
But all that changed today with the announcement of a Dept. of Justice criminal case that has resulted in Pfizerpleading guilty to a felony crime. Which crime? “…for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead.” You can read the DOJ documents describing the settlement here: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2009/Se…
Essentially, Pfizer asked the FDA to approve Bextra for a variety of diseases and conditions, and when the FDA refused those approvals, Pfizer decided to go ahead and market the drugs for those diseases and conditions anyway (off-label marketing).
But that’s not all. In the DOJ statement, you’ll read the following:
Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs — Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug — and caused false claims to be submitted to governmenthealth care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these, as well as other, drugs. The federal share of the civil settlement is $668,514,830 and the stateMedicaid share of the civil settlement is $331,485,170. This is the largest civil fraud settlement in history against apharmaceutical company.
False claims, kickbacks, felony crimes and civil fraud… it seems that the truth about pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer is finally starting to emerge.
And here’s the best part: Pfizer’s own whistleblowers will cash in! “Six whistleblowers will receive payments totaling more than $102 million from the federal share of the civil recovery,” says the DOJ.
$2.3 billion in fines
Along with this admission of guilt for committing a felony crime, Pfizer is paying well over $1 billion in criminal fines, plus another $1 billion or so to resolve civil allegations against its fraudulent marketing practices. In all, the multi-billion dollar settlement is the largest in the history of the DOJ.
All I can say is: Good work! I’ve often stated that the pharmaceutical industry should be subjected to our nation’s laws, and yet it has operated in a largely lawless fashion for decades. The FTC, for example, which should be investigating the drug industry monopolies that rip off American consumers and limit consumer choice, has all but ignored the monopolistic (and highly illegal) practices of the pharmaceutical industry. But the Dept. of Justice has now apparently decided that enough is enough — it’s going to investigate and prosecute serious criminal fraud being committed by drug companies.