Pfizer Pays $60 Million Settlement For Bribing Foreign Officials to Dispense More Drugs_Featured_, Big Pharma, Corporations Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Ethan A. Huff
Drug giant Pfizer has agreed to pay a $60 million fine to settle charges filed against the company alleging illegal bribery. According to CNN Money, both Pfizer and Wyeth, the latter of which has since merged with Pfizer, paid off foreign officials in Europe and Asia to speed up drug approvals, and give preference to Pfizer drugs in their countries’ public health programs, which in turn generated billions of dollars for the world’s largest drug company.
According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which will receive a $45 million cut of the settlement, Pfizer was in direct violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when it illegally boosted its profits by bribing doctors and public health officials in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Serbia. Pfizer officials allegedly rewarded doctors in these countries with cash and vacations to prescribe more Pfizer drugs.
Knowing that it could get caught, Pfizer attempted to hide these illicit transactions by burying them in accounting records as business expenses. Rather than appear as payoffs; in other words, the bribes were entered into the books in such a way as to make them appear as travel expenses, training costs, freight charges, and entertainment.
“Corrupt pay-offs to foreign officials in order to secure lucrative contracts creates an inherently uneven marketplace and puts honest companies at a disadvantage,” said James McJunking of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office in a statement concerning the case.