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Big Pharma endures big fines and continues business as usual

Friday, January 08, 2010 by: Paul Louis, staff writer
Tags: Big Pharma, lawsuits, health news


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(Natural News) Donna Kendall was awarded a $6.3 million compensation with $28 million added for punitive damages in her suit against Pfizer this past November. The jury in Philadelphia awarded the punitive penalty after determining that the hormone therapy drugs Premarin, Prempro and Provera caused her breast cancer due to reckless action or inaction by the pharmaceutical companies involved.

Premarin and Prempro were manufactured by Wyeth, which Pfizer purchased recently for $67 billion. In 2003, Pfizer purchased the manufacturer of Provera, Pharmacie & Upjohn. With the help of these acquisitions, Pfizer has become the largest drug manufacturer in the world. According to a Reuters report, Pfizer may have inherited hundreds of more pending cases with those three recently purchased companies.

Before the Kendall case, Wyeth was successfully sued for $79 million in total compensatory and punitive damages. Pfizer seems to take these punches in stride. Of course, they will oppose the decisions and appeal to higher courts. But there was a court decision before these that Pfizer cannot oppose or appeal.

In early September 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay out a total of $2.3 billion, considered a record settlement for a drug company. The civil lawsuits and regulatory fines will be distributed throughout most of the country as a result of a years-long Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.

But the New York Times considers this a sneeze for Pfizer, mentioning that "While the government said the fine was a record sum, the $2.3 billion fine amounts to less than three weeks of Pfizer's sales."

The DOJ was after Pfizer and its subsidiaries for illegal activities and "off label marketing" -- the marketing of drugs for uses other than what the FDA approved. The illegally marketed drugs were the pain killers Lyrica and Bextra, the antipsychotic Geodon, and the antibiotic Zyvox. Zyvox was actually marketed for illnesses on which it had no effect.

In addition to seminars for physicians to promote drugs outside of their approved use, kickbacks were offered to physicians for prescribing drugs outside of FDA sanctioned uses. This is the fourth time Pfizer has agreed to a large settlement over fraudulent marketing since 2002. (Salon, source below)

Since 1999, other drug makers such as Eli Lilly and Merck have also incurred huge settlements. But this doesn't seem to slow Big Pharma down. They just raise prices and create demands for drugs and vaccines even if they harm more than heal.

Sources for this article include:
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssHealthcar...
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/03...

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