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M. Brandon Smith
M. Brandon Smith
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Pfizer Fined $2.3 Billion For Illegally Advertising Its Drugs

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Pfizer and its subsidiary, Upjohn, are paying $2.3 billion in order to settle criminal and civil liability that arose from illegal promotion of the painkiller Bextra.

Bextra, according to the Wall Street Journal, was pulled from the market in 2005. It was commonly associated with a life threatening condition called Stevens Johnosn Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis.

Pfizer, as part of the settlement agreement, “agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud.”

Other drugs Pfizer has settled civil charges related to Bextra include schizophrenia drug Geodon, antibiotic Zyvox and anti-epilepsy drug Lyrica.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Pfizer’s settlement agreement is the largest health-care fraud settlement in DOJ history.

Other settlements are among attorneys and Pfizer in 42 states and the District of Colombia to cover state civil consumer protection allegations related to Geodon which include paying $33 million.

What exactly did Pfizer do?

According to DOJ, the company allegedly paid kickbacks to health-care providers in order “to induce them to prescribe Bextra and other drugs.” The company promoted Bextra for off-label uses that have not been approved by the FDA. Pfizer denies the kickback charges but does concede “improper actions related to the promotion of Zyvox.”