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« BioWorld Reports on the Top 25 Biotech Drugs | Main | Cancer Drug Development in The New York Times »

September 01, 2009



WASHINGTON — Top aides in the Obama administration announced a $2.3 billion settlement on Wednesday with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. over the company’s illegal promotion of its now-withdrawn painkiller, Bextra.

It is the largest fine ever levied for fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and Obama administration officials — criticized by Republicans on Capitol Hill for failing to crack down on fraud in the government’s health programs — sought to highlight the case by having Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, make the announcement. The agreement also includes some promotional practices involving other Pfizer drugs — Zyvox, Geodon and Lyrica.

The settlement had been expected. Pfizer, which is acquiring a rival, Wyeth, had reported in January that it had taken a $2.3 billion charge to resolve claims involving Bextra and other drugs. Pfizer shares were down about one percent at mid-day.

Marketing fraud cases against pharmaceutical companies have become almost routine, with almost every major drug maker having been accused of giving kickbacks to doctors or shortchanging the Medicaid program on prices. Prosecutors said that they had become so alarmed by the growing criminality in the industry that they had begun increasing fines into the billions of dollars and would soon start charging doctors individually as well.

Just a friendly reminder.

Dear Keep:

1) these fines were for marketing practices, not drug discovery
2) it's good that this administration takes oversight seriously, unlike the last one
3) no one ever said pharmaceutical companies walked with the angels, just that if you want new drugs, don't look to generics - that's not their market niche.

But thanks for the reminder.

"no one ever said pharmaceutical companies walked with the angels, just that if you want new drugs, don't look to generics"

Was Bextra a new drug?

Dear Keep:

Did we say fining Pfizer was somehow inappropriate?

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