The world’s biggest drugmaker Pfizer has agreed to pay a record fine of over 1.6 billion euros in one of the largest-ever healthcare fraud cases.
The US company pleaded guilty to a charge of improper marketing of its now-withdrawn Bextra pain medicine, and 12 other products. US officials say Pfizer will now be obliged to enter a corporate integrity agreement. Tony West, US Department of Justice explained to reporters: “Pfizer asked the FDA (Food and Drug administration) if it could promote the sale of Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug for certain other uses and in doses higher than the approved maximum. The FDA, citing safety concerns, said no. But Pfizer marketed Bextra for those unapproved uses anyway.” The settlement also relates to allegations that Pfizer paid bribes and offered lavish hospitality to healthcare providers to encourage them to prescribe the drugs. An investigation into the company was triggered by information received from six whistleblowers who are to receive substantial recompense for their actions.