I have friends who work as pharmaceutical sales reps and quite frankly, I’ve never gotten a good answer as to why the pharma industry is even allowed to push drugs on doctors or the general public at large, either with gifts, dinners or television commercials.
I am by no means anti the drug industry, I just get very uncomfortable with the possibility that a doctor may be prescribing a drug for reasons other than that it is the best possible drug for the patient.
Anyway, the Obama administration’s Justice Department has just fired a signal flare over the entire industry with its massive, record-breaking criminal fine against Pfizer (PFE) over it’s marketing activities. I’d be surprised if the rest of the drugmakers don’t make big adjustments as a result of it.
From the AP via Yahoo Finance:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors hit Pfizer Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3 billion in fines Wednesday and called the world’s largest drugmaker a repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages, and resort junkets.
Announcing the penalty as a warning to all drug manufacturers, Justice Department officials said the overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules, and the $1.2 billion criminal fine is the largest ever in any U.S. criminal case. The total includes $1 billion in civil penalties and a $100 million criminal forfeiture.
If we were to judge degrees of criminality by the size of the fine levied, then we’d have to conclude that Pfizer is the largest criminal entity in the history of the United States. Now of course that isn’t true (AIG is).