Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pfizer on the loose

From Sally Kohn
In 2009, the pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer was ordered to pay the largest criminal fine in U.S. history — $1.19 billion — for illegally marketing the painkiller Bextra, a drug the FDA approved only in low-doses for the relief of arthritis and menstrual discomfort. Pfizer nonetheless pushed Bextra as an all-purpose pain killer in high doses for acute, post-surgical pain — despite the FDA’s finding that in such uses, Bextra would significantly increase risks of heart attack and stroke.

The criminal conviction for illegal marketing of Bextra would have barred Pfizer from participating in federal Medicare and Medicaid drug programs. So, with the consent of federal prosecutors, Pfizer created a “shell company” — Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. — to take the fall. According to a CNN Special Investigation:

“…the subsidiary is nothing more than a shell company whose only function is to plead guilty. According to court documents, Pfizer Inc. owns (a) Pharmacia Corp., which owns (b) Pharmacia & Upjohn LLC, which owns (c) Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. LLC, which in turn owns (d) Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc. It is the great-great-grandson of the parent company.”

Parmacia & Upjohn Co. is barred from doing business with federally-funded health programs, while Pfizer continues to reap profits from our tax payer dollars. This isn’t the only trouble Pfizer has caused in the last few weeks but while as a country we keep pushing for tougher law-and-order treatment of individual crimes, massive and monstrous corporate crimes are routinely overlooked by our political system (which is now officially a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America).

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