FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Integrity Means to Pfizer

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

The satire was biting:

“Thanks for making time to see me today,” posted a rep on cafepharma about a fictitious sales meeting with a psychiatrist. “Now, I know that you used Neurontin in the past for every condition under the sun. Pfizer knows very well that you guys were and still continue to be the largest writers of off-label Lyrica and so, in the spirit of Bextra [withdrawn in 2004] will you please write Lyrica as much as possible? Remember Dr, this is Pfizer. The company that never met an off-label sale that it wouldn’t cover-up.”

Don’t forget, writes the next poster on the pharma site, the psychiatrist answers, “Great! and I also heard that it is about to be approved on state Medicaid and I can write it for anything. Is this true?” to which the rep assents in defiance of, “that nice little 2004 CIA agreement.”

Pfizer’s nice little 2004 “CIA” or Corporate Integrity Agreement in which a company promises to sin no more to which the poster refers was for fraudulent marketing of seizure drug Neurontin. It was preceded by a CIA for fraud related to Pfizer’s cholesterol drug, Lipitor, in 2002.

And this month it’s followed by a CIA for mis-marketing pain drug Bextra, antipsychotic Geodon, seizure drug Lyrica and antibiotic Zyvox.

Pfizer’s $2.3 billion health care fraud settlement with the government announced this month by the US Department of Justice adds some firsts to the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company.

It is the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice “to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products,”–and the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States. It covers Pfizer’s kickbacks to health care providers and false claims submitted to government health care programs, also known as our tax dollars, in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Forty-three states will share in the “give backs.”

But it is not exhaustive.

In July, Pfizer signed a $75 million agreement with Nigerian authorities to settle criminal and civil charges over the deaths and injuries of children given its unapproved antibiotic Trovan in 1996 now restricted for US use except in extreme cases by FDA.

Pfizer has been funding the “grassroots” organization National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) according to Pfizer rep Mark R. Westlock, a whistleblower whose testimony was included in the Bextra settlement and whose case against Pfizer is posted on Bnet.

And Scott S. Reuben, MD, former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA and paid Pfizer speaker was found to have faked Bextra and Lyrica pain studies on which medical practice was based in a long medical con exposed this year–not just making up data but making up patients. PS The studies were retracted from medical journals.

Pfizer’s illegal Neurontin marketing featured the “usual suspects” of off-label marketing, kickback schemes, Medicaid fraud and falsified science.

But apparently New York City-based Pfizer didn’t learn its lesson. Part of the $2.3 billion settlement announced this month includes payments to states for illegally promoting its antipsychotic Geodon for unapproved uses like treating children and dementia in the elderly.

In fact FDA is considering approval of Geodon for “the acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder, with or without psychotic features, in children and adolescents ages 10 to 17” even as the settlement ink dries in what seems a little… retroactive. Seated on the FDA advisory panel in June as a citizen providing sunshine was a member of the Pfizer financed NAMI.

Pfizer representatives were fixtures at Western State Hospital, a mental hospital near Lakewood, WA, according to the News Tribune, where 118 prescriptions were written for Geodon on a single day, December 6, 2006.

Asked by reporter M. Alexander Otto in 2007 why reps made almost 200 visits in four years, Pfizer company spokesman Bryant Haskins said, “That’s where our customers are.”

See: “That’s where the money is.” (William”Willie” Sutton, bank robber.)

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail