Pfizer is fined record $2.3bn

City A.M. Reporter
THE US drugs giant Pfizer yesterday agreed to plead guilty to a criminal charge relating to promotion of its now-withdrawn Bextra pain medicine.<br />The group said it would pay a record $2.3 bn (&pound;1.61bn) to settle allegations it improperly marketed 13 medicines.<br /><br />The world&rsquo;s biggest drugmaker was slapped with the huge fines after being deemed a repeat offender in pitching drugs to patients and doctors for unapproved conditions.<br /><br />Pfizer, whose shares fell 1.3 per cent immediately after the announcement, had pleaded guilty in 2004 to an earlier criminal charge of improper sales tactics and its marketing practices have been under federal supervision since then.<br /><br />The company in January said it took a $2.3bn charge late last year to resolve allegations involving Bextra and other drugs, but did not provide details at the time.<br /><br />Yesterday&rsquo;s agreement was unveiled by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Health and Human Services Department.<br /><br />&ldquo;The size and seriousness of this resolution, including the huge criminal fine of $1.3bn, reflects the seriousness and scope of Pfizer&rsquo;s crimes,&rdquo; said Mike Loucks, acting US attorney for the District of Massachusetts.<br /><br />The settlement includes a $1.3bn criminal fine related to methods of selling Bextra, which was withdrawn from the market in 2005 on safety concerns. Pfizer acquired Bextra in its 2003 purchase of Pharmacia Corp.<br /><br />Pfizer&rsquo;s marketing team promoted Bextra for acute pain, surgical pain and other unapproved uses, while its sales force promoted the drug directly to doctors for unapproved uses and dosages, according to the Justice Department.