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article imageOp-Ed: Risks to World Health and Business from Pfizer Settlement

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 26, 2009 in World
Pfizer faces serious threats. The pharmaceutical giant lost 90% of nets profits last year, is struggling with the economy, and has now been hit with billion dollar lawsuits. that could reverberate in the health and business sectors everywhere.
The fact that Pfizer has recently settled with Nigerian families for billions following the death and deformity of 200 children allegedly related to an illegal experimental drug Trovan, used as a vaccine for meningitis, creates some concern about the company’s welfare in this season of financial troubles. This is comes at a critical time for the company as billions is being paid out at the time the company has seen a 90% drop in its net income in the fourth quarter of 2008. Furthermore it faces another multi billion dollar lawsuit from the government of Nigeria. Where else may problems be?
It turns out a number of patents Pfizer dominated have expired and have caused big reductions in sales of their drugs. That means that key drugs can now be developed by other companies. With the monopoly expired, Pfizer is on the ropes with its drug competition from various corners of the market.
Add to this the stock market squeezes that are causing big companies consternation.
If Pfizer has problems in Nigeria, will other families begin to explore potential settlements, given the potential of financial gain, tying the company up in future lawsuits in other places?
Pfizer is a major player on the stock market so a big hit on this company can impact the overall performance of the market. One bad piece of news about this company’s future, as the Nigerian settlement has been, can bring tremors to an already-shaken business community.
This is the company to watch when it comes to the news of the world, both in its stock performance but in what is happening around the world with reactions from citizens of third world countries to its pharmaceuticals. This is the company to watch for the potential of disease control issues. And it is the company to watch for the future of the financial markets around the world at a time when the interrelationship of them counts a lot. There are, in fact, issues already with the Pfizer acquisition of Wyeth and questions whether or not Citigroup used bailout money for Pfizer to initiate the purchase. There is concern that the stock market downturn may force lenders to carry the acquisition on their books at a time when they can’t afford to do that.
I wrote a news article about Pfizer and the settlement with the Nigerians early this morning, but since that have learned enough to consider some particularly serious issues added to what I learned this morning.
So far my opinion, not as a stock market analyst, economist or health services investigator, but as someone who has looked at the facts so far by assessing these issues as they relate to each other. Pfizer can’t afford multiple lawsuits from governments nor can it afford to stay in business with competition from other companies while this is happening. It can’t afford the negative publicity gained from the settlements in Nigeria. Furthermore, its prominent position as the instrument of pharmaceutical development and delivery in the developing nations make it a target, following the settlement with Nigerians, of those who want to make money with legal maneuvers. That same settlement may also communicate to fearful or ill-educated people that there is something to fear from immunization of children, a threat to disease control.
I believe that Pfizer is the company to watch in the areas of health and business as what happens as a result of the settlement with Nigeria could, in fact, impact many things. It is particularly important given the fact that it is the #1 research-based pharmaceutical company in the world with GlaxoSmithKline a heavy competitor anticipated to pass the giant by 2012.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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