Pfizer inherits $35 million fine

Ashley Milne-Tyte Apr 3, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Pfizer has agreed to pay almost $35 million to settle an investigation by the Justice Department. Feds were looking into how a drug called Genotropin was promoted. It’s a human growth hormone. Pfizer’s paying the money even though it really wasn’t behind the shady practices. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Pfizer inherited the problems that have led to the fine.

In 2003 it bought Pharmacia, the company that made Genotropin. The questionable sales practices took place before Pfizer’s acquisition.

Not only did Pharmacia pay kickbacks to a pharmacy benefits manager for talking up Genotropin, it also promoted it as an anti-aging drug and said taking it could make you more athletic.

Pharmaceutical industry consultant Mark Ravera:

MARK RAVERA: All of the companies are trying to maximize the market size for all of their drugs, but they have to do that within the confines of the indications the drug has on the label. And so the companies really try and walk as close to the line as they possibly can.

He says they clearly crossed it in this case.

As for the $35 million fine, he says, Pfizer can easily swallow it and move on. But it should serve as a deterrent to drug companies considering similar marketing practices.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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