The ‘big pharma’ company Pfizer has paid the US government $60 million to settle allegations of attempting to bribe doctors to win business.
The allegations about Pfizer were that the drugs company, through its subsidiary arms including New Jersey based Wyeth, attempted to bribe officials and doctors in Europe and Asia in order to secure business deals for its range of dug products. In November 2011 it was rumored that Pfizer would be fined; this has now been confirmed by government officials.
According to the US government, Pfizer representatives had been attempting to bribe foreign officials, in countries like China, Italy, Russia, Croatia, as early as 2001. The main way in which Pfizer had allegedly attempted to bribe clinicians was through awarding ‘points’ to doctors who purchased drugs, and then allowing the doctors to exchange the points for gifts. The more drugs a doctor prescribed then the more points they earned.
Amy Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel for Pfizer is quoted by the New Strait Times as saying “The actions which led to this resolution were disappointing, but the openness and speed with which Pfizer voluntarily disclosed and addressed them reflects our true culture.”
New Jersey.com notes that the settlement does not indicate that either Pfizer or Wyeth admitted any wrong-doing.
Pfizer is a New York-based pharmaceutical company. Pfizer’s research headquarters are located in Groton, Connecticut, United States. It is the world's largest pharmaceutical company in terms of sales revenues. Pfizer's products include Lipitor (atorvastatin, used to lower blood cholesterol); the neuropathic pain/fibromyalgia drug Lyrica (pregabalin); the oral antifungal medication Diflucan (fluconazole), the antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin), Viagra (sildenafil, for erectile dysfunction), and the anti-inflammatory Celebrex (celecoxib).
The charge against Pfizer was brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the Act publicly traded companies are not permitted to bribe officials in other countries to secure or to retain business. This news comes on top of Pfizer having to enact an expensive recall of one million contraceptive pills which were found not to contain any active ingredients.
Earlier this month the Digital Journal reported on the SEC bringing charges against Teva Pharmaceuticals for alleged malpractice.