Just yesterday I wrote about Forest Laboratory’s problems with paying doctors to prescribe Lexapro over Celexa because Lexapro costs almost 6 times more than Celexa, yet is so similar to Celexa the Food and Drug Administration can’t tell them apart.
The news today is that Pfizer and subsidiaries Pharmacia & Upjohn agreed to pay a fine of $2.3B for trumpeting Bextra a drug it was forced to recall. Indeed. Pfizer’s subsidiaries actually pleaded guilty to a felony charge of marketing Bextra for unapproved uses!
How did Pfizer do it? Just like Forest Labs; they paid doctors to prescribe Bextra. Keep in mind, Pfizer is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. The fine it agreed to pay is the largest fine ever paid by a pharmaceutical company. Bear in mind, $2.3B to Pfizer is like paying a speeding ticket to you and I.
How did all this happen? John Kopchinski a West Point grad and Persian Gulf war vet, was told to increase profits at Pfizer no matter how many people’s lives were placed in jeopardy. He couldn’t stomach that philosophy so he filed a Qui Tam or in layman’s terms, a whistleblower action against Pfizer. Four long years after the drug was pulled from the market, Pfizer ponied up a fine and pleaded guilty to a felony to resolve the issue with the U.S. Government.
Kopchinski stands to collect at least $51M for his courage to stand up to Big Pharma.