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Pfizer’s out of court settlements read like the credits to a movie

By Peter Bianco

Before taking an unlicensed, experimental drug made by a company that since 1996 has paid over $3.7 billion in out of court settlements, was charged with healthcare fraud by the US Govt and been indemnified against civil cases by the UK Govt, consider the following:

In 1996, Pfizer conducted an unapproved clinical trial that led to the death of 11 children from kidney failure and left dozens more disabled. In 2011, Pfizer paid $700,000 to four families who lost a child and set up a $35 million fund for the disabled.

– In 2009, Pfizer set a record for the largest health care fraud settlement and criminal fine of any kind, paying $2.3 billion to avoid criminal and civil liability for fraudulently marketing Bextra, which had been refused approval due to safety concerns.

In 2013, Pfizer agreed to pay $55 million to settle criminal charges of failing to warn patients and doctors about the risks of kidney disease, kidney injury, kidney failure and acute interstitial nephritis caused by the proton pump inhibitor Protonix.

– By 2012, Pfizer paid $1.226 billion to settle claims by nearly 10,000 women that their hormone replacement therapy drug Prempro caused breast cancer. – In 2013, Pfizer set aside about $288 million to settle claims by 2,700 people that their smoking cessation drug Chantix caused suicidal thoughts and severe psychological disorders. The FDA determined that Chantix also increases risk of heart attack.

– In May 2018, Pfizer had 6,000 lawsuits pending against claims that testosterone replacement therapy products causing strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis were marketed at healthy men for uses not approved by the FDA.

– In 2013, Pfizer absolved itself of claims that the antidepressant Effexor caused congenital heart defects in the children of pregnant woman by arguing that the prescribing obstetrician was responsible for advising the patient about the medication’s use.

– In 1992, Pfizer agreed to pay between $165 million and $215 million to settle lawsuits arising from the fracturing of artificial heart valves which by 2008 were responsible for the deaths of 663 people.

– In 2009, Pfizer paid $750 million to settle 35,000 claims that the diabetes drug Rezulin is responsible for 63 deaths and dozens of liver failures. In 1999, a senior FDA epidemiologist warned that Rezulin was one of the most dangerous drugs on the market.

– In 2016, Pfizer was fined a record £84.2 million for overcharging the NHS for the dergulated anti-epilepsy drug Phenytoin by 2,600% (from £2.83 to £67.50), increasing the cost to taxpayers from £2 million a year in 2012 to about £50 million in 2013.

– In 2004, Pfizer’s subsidiary was fined $430 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities for fraudulent promotion of unapproved uses for the epilepsy drug Neurontin, paying and bribing doctors to prescribe it for uses not approved by the FDA.

– In 2010, Pfizer was ordered to pay a total of $142.1 million in damages for violating a federal antiracketeering law in its fraudulent sale and marketing of Neurontin for uses not approved by the FDA, including for migraines and bi-polar disorder.

– In March 2010 Pfizer admitted that, in the last 6 months of 2009 in the US alone, it had paid $20 million to 4,500 doctors for consulting and speaking on its behalf, and $15.3 million to 250 academic medical centres for clinical trials.

– In 2012, Pfizer paid $45 million to settle charges of bribing doctors and other health care professionals employed by foreign governments in order to win business. Chief of the SEC said: ‘Pfizer subsidiaries had bribery entwined in their sales culture.’


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