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article imagePfizer fined $2.3 billion for improper marketing of medications

By KJ Mullins     Sep 2, 2009 in Crime
The world's largest drug company, Pfizer is paying out $2.3 billion for promoting prescription drugs in the United States illegally.
The fine is the largest ever for a criminal case in United States history.
The company had been accused of marketing 13 medications improperly that include Viagra, Zoloft, and Lipitor.
Aljazerra reports:
"Pfizer's corrupt practices went so far as sending physicians on exotic junkets as well as wining and dining health care professionals to persuade them to prescribe the company's drugs for patients in taxpayer-funded programmes," said Andrew Cuomo, the New York's attorney general.
One of the drugs under the microscope was Bextra which was being promoted for other uses than inflammation which it was made for and at higher dosage levels than were approved of by the FDA.
Bextra has been off the shelves since 2005 when evidence showed that it increased the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
It is not uncommon for medications to be used for "off-label" conditions but it is considered unethical for the drug companies to promote those uses.
Some of the money will go to compensate federal health care programs. Those programs, including Medicaid and Medicare will be given $1 billion on the money.
This is the fourth time that Pfizer has been found guilty in the last ten years of improper marketing their wares.
Since 2004 the company has been under federal supervision after losing another case.
Pfizer is in the process of obtaining Wyeth for $68 million.
Shares for the drug company took a hit Wednesday after the fine was announced dropping 14 cents to $16.24 reports AP.
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