Fact Check: Settled Lawsuits Against Pfizer Over Alleged Marketing Fraud, Data Manipulation (2023)

The allegation: Pfizer was sued for "bribing doctors and suppressing adverse study results" for $2.3 billion

A viral social media post suggests Americans shouldn't trust Pfizer -- one of the main makers of coronavirus vaccines -- over a 2009 lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company.

April 26thInstagram-Postclaims, "Pfizer was sued for $2,300,000,000 in 2009 for 'bribing physicians and suppressing adverse study results.'"

The caption reads: "And you still trust them?? With your babies???”

The post appears to refer to a 2009 $2.3 billion settlement by Pfizer, but is misleading as to the scope of the allegations surrounding the settlement.

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USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.

Pfizer has settled allegations of bribery and illegal marketing of painkillers

The post appears to relate to a settlement involving Pfizer in which the companypleaded guilty to a federal criminal complaintin connection with the marketing of four drugs. The company agreed to pay$2.3 billion as part of the settlement.

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The Pharmacia & Upjohn Company - a subsidiary of Pfizer - agreed to take action against a criminal violation of theFood, Drug and Cosmetics Lawbecause of false labeling of the painkiller Bextra "with the intention of deceiving or misleading", soto the Ministry of Justice.

According to the law, a company must declare the intended uses of its productThe FDA's new drug applicationand not otherwise market a product after that time. The Ministry of Justicewrote in a press releasethatPfizer "promoted the sale of Bextra for various uses and dosages, which the FDA specifically denied due to safety concerns."

The company paid a $1.195 billion fine. Pfizer also lost another $105 million. Extra waswithdrawn from the market in 2005.

The Justice Department also said in 2009 that Pfizer paid $1 billion to resolve allegations of civil wrongdoing under the False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted Bextra and three other drugs: the antipsychotic Geodon, the antibiotic Zyvox, and the antiepileptic Lyrica .

The company also cleared up allegations that it paid kickbacks — an illegal payment in exchange for preferential treatment or compensation — to healthcare providers to encourage them to prescribe the drugs.

Pfizer denied the civil allegations but acknowledged improper advertising of Zyvox,Reuters reported in 2009.

The company's general counsel said at the time that it "regrets certain past actions" but is proud of the steps it has taken to strengthen its internal controls, Reuters also reported.

(Video) The Pfizer documents

Pfizer has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

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But none of these claims relate to suppressing evidence of adverse events, as the claim claims, a key issue as some Americans continue to question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Separate lawsuit alleging suppression of side effects, study manipulation

The allegations of adverse events surfaced in a previous lawsuit.

2004 Pfizeragreed to pay $430 million in a DOJ settlement and pleaded guilty to two countsof the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act for marketing the drug Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, for unauthorized uses.

Correspondinga statement from the DOJ, the company Warner-Lambert – whichPfizer was acquired in 2000- promoted Neurontin, "even though scientific studies had shown that it was not effective."

Two examples are the promotion of Neurontin as the sole drug for epileptic seizures -- even after the FDA rejected its sole use -- and the marketing of the drug as an effective treatment for bipolar disorder.

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CorrespondingReporting from the New York TimesIn 2008, experts reviewing company documents for the plaintiffs against Pfizer concluded that the company manipulated studies to support the use of Neurontin. One of the experts, Dr. Kay Dickersin, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the documents are "a publication strategy designed to convince physicians of the effectiveness of Neurontin and to misrepresent or suppress negative results."

In a statement, Pfizersaidit "fully cooperated with the government to resolve this matter," adding that the manipulation did not involve Pfizer's practices or employees and occurred prior to Pfizer's acquisition of Warner-Lambert.

2014 Pfizeragreed to pay an additional $325 millionto resolve claims in decades of civil litigation.

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Pfizer has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine

The Instagram post's claims fueling suspicion went viral at a time when misinformation and hesitation surrounding the coronavirus vaccines are particularly rampant.

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine wasfirst admittedfor use by persons 16 years and older per FDA Emergency Use Authorization in December. This came after testing these involvedmore than 40,000 people.

(Video) Pfizer, illegal exploitation

Following the FDA's emergency use authorization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practicesvoted for recommendationthe Pfizer vaccine. The committee also voted in favor of a recommendationthe modernandJohnson & Johnsonvaccinations.

Toto the CDC, mRNA vaccines — which include Pfizer's — have been “held to the samestrict safety and efficacy standardslike all other types of vaccines in the United States."

evidence outclinical trialsshows that Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

in a (nApril press releaseconfirmed Pfizer's "high efficacy and no serious safety concerns" following an updated landmark COVID-19 vaccine study.

Pfizer is now seeking full and regular approval for its vaccine. On May 12, the CDCunsubscribed on recommendationfor adolescents aged 12 to 15 to receive the vaccine.

Our rating: partly wrong

We rate this allegation that Pfizer was sued for $2.3 billion for “bribing physicians and suppressing adverse study results” PARTIALLY FALSE because this allegation confuses and misrepresents elements from two separate cases. Pfizer has settled various lawsuits involving allegations of kickbacks, fraudulent marketing and data tampering. The $2.3 billion was the total of a settlement involving Pfizer, but not in a case related to adverse event suppression. This allegation came in an earlier case that began before Pfizer acquired the company in question.

Pfizer has not admitted wrongdoing in its settlements. Additionally, the post's caption implies that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccines may not be safe based on the previous lawsuits, which is incorrect.

(Video) Infodemic: Coronavirus and the fake news pandemic

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How much was Pfizer fined for falsifying data? ›

WASHINGTON – American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. (hereinafter together "Pfizer") have agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the ...

How much is Pfizer paid out in lawsuits? ›

It has also set a record for the largest fine paid for a health care fraud lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in fines, penalties, and settlement for illegal marketing claims and allegations of fraud for the promotion and sales of arthritis medication Bextra (valdecoxib).

Was Pfizer convicted of fraud? ›

As part of the settlement, Pfizer PFE will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion, the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the USA for any matter, according to the Justice Department. Pharmacia & Upjohn must pay a $105 million criminal fine.

What was the Pfizer marketing scandal? ›

In 2004, Pfizer inked a $430 million settlement with the feds for its off-label promotions of the seizure drug Neurontin.

Did Pfizer to pay $2.3 billion agrees to criminal plea? ›

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has agreed to pay a record $2.3 billion settlement to resolve criminal and civil liability for illegally promoting certain pharmaceuticals, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Pfizer pays record fine to avoid prosecution for illegally promoting certain drugs.

How much is Pfizer's fine? ›

Announcing the settlement Wednesday, the Justice Department said that it included the largest criminal fine in U.S. history — $1.2 billion. The agreement also included a criminal forfeiture of $105 million.

What is the largest lawsuit payout in history Pfizer? ›

$2.3 billion

What is the biggest payout in a lawsuit? ›

Number 1: The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is also the biggest civil litigation settlement in US history. At USD246 billion, it is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. The case was brought against all the major tobacco companies by more than 40 US states.

What was Pfizer's largest criminal fine for? ›

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and one of its subsidiaries agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal charges regarding its marketing of the drug Bextra.

What was the largest ever fraud suit Pfizer settles for off label promotion? ›

The blockbuster agreement includes a $1.195 billion criminal fine—the largest ever imposed in the United States for any matter—for Pfizer's fraudulent promotion of Bextra.

What three products did Pfizer recall? ›

NEW YORK (WFXR) — Pfizer issued a nationwide blood pressure recall because the presence of nitrosamine is above the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level. The recall is for Accuretic tablets and two generics distributed by Greenstone — quinapril and hydrochlorothiazide and quinapril HCI/hydrochlorothiazide.

What pharmaceutical company has the biggest lawsuit? ›

1. GlaxoSmithKline, $3 billion. GlaxoSmithKline holds the dubious distinction of being forced to pay the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.

What did Pfizer recall today? ›

Pfizer is voluntarily recalling five (5) lots of Accupril (Quinapril HCl) tablets distributed by Pfizer to the patient (consumer/user) level due to the presence of a nitrosamine, N-nitroso-quinapril, observed in recent testing above the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level.

What is Pfizer guilty of? ›

Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, pleaded guilty on 13 May to numerous civil and criminal charges for illegally promoting the off-label use of gabapentin (Neurontin). It has agreed to pay a $240m (£136m; €200m) criminal fine and $152m to state and federal healthcare programmes.

Did Pfizer lie about gabapentin? ›

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been ordered to pay $142 million US in damages for fraudulently marketing gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug marketed under the name Neurontin. A federal jury in Boston ruled Thursday that Pfizer fraudulently marketed the drug and promoted it for unapproved uses.

Who has the biggest criminal fine in history? ›

In 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion in a criminal and civil liability lawsuit stemming from the illegal promotion of certain drugs.

Which pharmaceutical company has been fined the most? ›

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) is one of the most fined pharmaceutical companies in the world, having faced 9 penalties since its operations commenced.

What is the success rate of Pfizer Covid vaccine? ›

How well it works: When Pfizer-BioNTech applied for FDA authorization for its vaccine in December 2020, its initial Phase 3 clinical data surpassed expectations with 95% efficacy for the prevention of COVID-19, based on an independent analysis by the FDA.

What 8 countries did Pfizer admit bribery? ›

Pfizer admits to making improper payments, dating back to 2001, to officials in Russia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Czech Republic, China and Italy.

How much did Pfizer pay in criminal payout? ›

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, inc., will pay $2.3 billion to the Federal government and 49 States to settle allegations that it violated federal regulations in promoting several drugs, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The settlement is the largest in U.S. history to date in a healthcare fraud case.

How long does it take to get money from a class action settlement? ›

The average time it takes to process a settlement check is between one and six weeks. However, it can take several months for you to receive just compensation. If you hire one of the experienced attorneys from Morgan & Morgan, you should not have to wait six weeks to receive your settlement check.

How is money divided in a class action lawsuit? ›

Pro rata settlements divide money in a class action lawsuit by splitting the amount equally among the Class Members. The share each Class Member will receive can depend on either the total number of individuals in the Class or by the number of valid claims filed, depending on how the agreement is drafted.

What is the usual result of a settlement? ›

Generally, when a settlement agreement is reached, the responsible party pays an amount to compensate for the “damages,” or losses, their negligence caused the victim.

What is the largest criminal industry in the world? ›

Answer: cigarettes. About 600 billion of the tobacco products are trafficked per year.

Is Pfizer high blood pressure recall? ›

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has voluntary recalled a blood pressure medication for the second time in a month. Pfizer is recalling five lots of blood pressure medicine Accupril because of elevated levels of a nitrosamine, Nnitroso-quinapril, the company said in a news release posted Friday on the FDA website.

What are the 3 blood pressure medicines that were recalled? ›

Some of these drugs from certain manufacturers — including angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), ranitidine, nizatidine, and metformin — have been recalled because of nitrosamine impurities.

What are the most harmful blood pressure medications? ›

New research presented today at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session pointed out that two types of high blood pressure medications — alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists — are associated with blood pressure variability. And these fluctuations are linked to an increased risk of death.

What company has the biggest lawsuit settlement? ›

Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard. The largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history occurred in 1998 between the attorneys general of 46 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. territories, and the nation's four largest tobacco companies.

Which blood pressure medications or recall from Pfizer? ›

Recalled blood pressure medications
  • NDC: 0071-3112-23, lot No. FG5379, expiration date 08/24.
  • ​NDC: 0071-0222-23, lot No. EA6686, expiration date 04/22​​

What blood pressure pill was recalled in 2022? ›

Dec. 29, 2022 -- A pharmaceuticals company is voluntarily recalling blood pressure medication because an impurity was detected in recent testing, the Food and Drug Administration said this week. No illnesses have been reported from the Quinapril Tablets produced by Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc., the FDA said.

What high blood pressure medicine is being recalled? ›

A pharmaceutical company is recalling a blood pressure medication due to a potential cancer risk, the FDA announced this week. Aurobindo Pharma USA is recalling two lots of quinapril and hydrochlorothiazide tablets due to levels of nitrosamine.

Did Pfizer pay the largest criminal fine in history? ›

The Most Expensive Criminal and Civil Fines: Who paid the largest fine in recent history and why? In the US, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in criminal and civil fines, the largest in recent pharmaceutical history.

What did Pfizer pay the largest criminal fine for? ›

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and one of its subsidiaries agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal charges regarding its marketing of the drug Bextra.

How much did Pfizer pay for damages? ›

Pfizer, the world's largest drugs company, has been hit with the biggest criminal fine in US history as part of a $2.3bn settlement with federal prosecutors for mispromoting medicines and for paying kickbacks to compliant doctors.

What is the largest criminal organization in the world? ›

The Solntsevskaya Bratva is deeply involved with the international drug trade, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Russia (which consumes an estimated 12% of global herion production). It is also involved in human trafficking, prostitution, white collar crime (such as hacking), and extortion.

Did Pfizer have the biggest lawsuit? ›

Glaxo's $3 billion settlement included the largest civil False Claims Act settlement on record, and Pfizer's $2.3 billion ($3.5 billion in 2022) settlement including a record-breaking $1.3 billion criminal fine.
List of largest pharmaceutical settlements.
Settlement$430 million
Violation(s)Off-label promotion
21 more columns

Who is liable for the Covid 19 vaccine? ›

Except for willful misconduct, a covered person is immune from lawsuits and liability under federal and state law with respect to all claims for loss resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure, such as a COVID-19 vaccine, if they meet criteria stated in a declaration under the PREP Act issued ...


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