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Pharma Phacts News

Pfizer hit with biggest criminal fine in US history

Hey everyone,

This weeks Pharma Phacts post out surrounds Pfizer’s nasty fine for illegal promotion of 13 of its biggest drugs.

The fine which amounts to US$2.3 billion (that is right, billion) is the largest case health care fraud in US history. Just over half of that, $1.19 million is a criminal fine for felony misbranding. That figure also is a record breaker, as the largest criminal settlement in US history.

The criminal part of the settlement, surrounded the illegal promtion of Bextra, a COX-2 inhibitor. Bextra, was pulled from the U.S. market in 2005 amid mounting evidence it raised the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Pfizer continued to promote the use of Bextra for off-label uses of the drug. This practice is illegal in both the US and Australia.

Off-label prescription is when a doctor prescribes a drug that has not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA is the Australian statutory body that regulates the approval of a drug and for what conditions the drug can be prescribed for. This is based on rigorous clinical trials and evidence a drugs efficacy and safety.

The practice of off-label prescription is not uncommon in Australia, however the practice of promoting the drug for any uses it has not been approved for is illegal.

The other drugs that were part of the civil settlements included the blockbuster nerve pain and epilepsy drug Lyrica (pregabalin), schizophrenia medication Geodon (ziprasidone), the antibiotic Zyvox (linezolid) and nine other medicines.

Some pretty scary stuff…

For more, check out the link below.



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Pharma Phacts are a medical student group committed to raising awareness about pharmaceutical companies and their interactions with medical students.