Courts & Crime

Pfizer to pay $2.3 billion to settle U.S. drug fraud allegations

Pfizer will pay a record $2.3 billion penalty to settle an investigation into illegal prescription drug promotions.

The settlement with the Justice Department includes a $1.2 billion criminal fine, the largest in U.S. history.

The case involves Pfizer's promotion of the painkiller Bexra and other medicines. Authorities said Pfizer's sales representatives created phony doctor requests for medical information in order to send unsolicited information to doctors about unapproved uses and dosages.

The world's largest drug company wined and dined doctors and sent them on exotic trips to induce them to prescribe its drugs including the impotence treatment Viagra and cholesterol medicine Lipitor, they said.

"Combating health care fraud is one of this administration's top priorities," Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli said in announcing the settlement. He said it illustrates ways the department “can help the American public at a time when budgets are tight and health care costs are rising.”

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