Pfizer has been fined $60m by US regulators for bribery of doctors and government officials in countries in eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East over the decade up to 2006.
The high-profile settlement, reached with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, marks the latest step in recent efforts to prosecute practices covered by the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.Details released by US officials included “incentive trips” for Bulgarian sales staff to invite government doctors to Greek holiday destinations in 2003. They also included “consulting agreements” involving payments to the Austrian bank account of a doctor in Croatia in 1997 who influenced decisions on registration and reimbursement of medicines.
Officials also released details of a $500,000 exclusive distribution agreement with a Kazakh company, much of which Pfizer believed would be paid to a high-level government official.
Pfizer ran two “hospital programs” in Russia that earmarked 5 per cent of the price of its product as cash payments to prescribers in exchange for past or future sales, amounting to $820,000 between 2003 and 2005.
In a tender in 2004 in Russia, a Pfizer employee indicated that 10 per cent was for “motivation of officials.” Other “honorarium” to win use of its drugs were falsely described in invoices as for organisation of conferences.
The agreement with regulators follows voluntary disclosure by Pfizer in 2004 of the activities in its subsidiaries, and a further round of inquiries into foreign subsidiaries after its purchase of Wyeth in 2008.
Johnson & Johnson has already agreed a similar settlement for bribery linked to pharmaceutical sales, and several have been concluded with medical device companies in recent months. Further cases are under investigation with drug companies, including AstraZeneca.
Teva of Israel, the world’s largest generic drugs group, this week also announced it was in discussions over allegations of bribery in a number of Latin American countries.
The latest action could yet lead to further civil actions by Pfizer investors against the company.
In July GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay a record $3bn to settle US regulators’ charges of aggressive marketing in the US and the selective use of data from clinical trials in its promotion of drugs beyond their authorised uses.
So this ‘high-profile settlement’ isn’t bribery?
Normally, companies can build on top of others’ products as patents are set to expire, so they’re ready to launch once the patent has expired. But, in this case, even trying to build new offerings in a lab for use later is apparently an insane billion dollar issue. Even worse, it means that any real competition, which will create more market-reasonable prices, gets significantly delayed as no one can prepare for when the patent expires.
PARIS — The call to Vincent Grandil’s Paris law firm began like many others that have rolled in recently. On the line was the well-paid chief executive of one of France’s most profitable companies, and he was feeling nervous.
President François Hollande is vowing to impose a 75 percent tax on the portion of anyone’s income above a million euros ($1.24 million) a year. “Should I be preparing to leave the country?” the executive asked Mr. Grandil.
Don’t let la porte hit your derriere on the way out.
This is the first image taken by the Navigation cameras on NASA’s Curiosity rover. It shows the shadow of the rover’s now-upright mast in the center, and the arm’s shadow at left. The arm itself can be seen in the foreground.
The navigation camera is used to help find the sun — information that is needed for locating, and communicating, with Earth. After the camera pointed at the sun, it turned in the opposite direction and took this picture. The position of the shadow helps confirm the sun’s location.
The “augmented reality” or AR tag seen in the foreground can be used in the future with smart phones to obtain more information about the mission.
“This letter to the editor for a Kalamazoo police officer to the Calgary Herald has been floating around Twitter and the internet today, mostly for the purposes of mocking it. The officer describes an incedent that he feels is a good example of why Canada should allow concealed firearms. Two men came up to him and his wife to ask if they had been to the Calgary Stampede, and…that’s all. The newspaper has already released an editorial explaining that it’s a real letter they received from a real police officer, and that it isn’t a hoax. I thought it might be right up Boingboing’s alley. It really does illustrate a cultural divide between Canadian and (some) Americans’ views on gun control. It has also sparked the Twitter hashtag #NoseHillGentleman.”
Even with the newspaper’s reassurance, I find it hard not to believe that this guy isn’t trolling — the cliche is too perfect.