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Pfizer and its Corrupt Ways

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Pfizer, like most companies these days, has a website. The giant drug maker's site says this on its homepage:

"At Pfizer, we're inspired by a single goal: your health. That's why we're dedicated to developing new, safe medicines to prevent and treat the world's most serious diseases. And why we are making them available to the people who need them most. We believe that from progress comes hope and the promise of a healthier world."

Very pretty, isn't it? Well written. Full of rectitude, concern, and a deep passion for service. More than likely, the mission statement above was written by an English major working in the PR department.

As the great American philosopher Woody Allen has said, (and I'm paraphrasing here): if you can fake sincerity, you can go a long way in America.

On September 3, 2009, Pfizer paid a fine of $2,300,000,000.00 (That's $2.3 billion for those keeping score) for health care fraud. Of that amount, $1.3 billion was a criminal fine; the largest criminal fine in the history of the Republic.

America has had some serious criminals: Al Capone, Bernie Madoff, Bonnie & Clyde, Worldcom, Enron, and endless dozens of drug dealers, murderers, and pimps have called the good old U.S.A. home. Now Pfizer, who employs a lot of people in the Philadelphia area, takes its place alongside the best.

Pfizer pleaded guilty to to a felony violation for marketing a drug for uses outside the ones approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They wanted an expanded market segment. They wanted more bang per buck on a drug that was selling very well. They didn't care how they did it.

How did they do it?

By taking doctors on expensive junkets to play golf or sail; to eat good food and drink expensive wine. The doctors were dutifully corrupted, and wrote prescriptions for a drug called Bextra which caused heart attacks when wrongly prescribed. Just think how cheaply Pfizer bought off all those doctors; a cruise, some nice wine, a couple of good meals, and presto one of America's biggest companies gets what it wants even if some unsuspecting patients have to die.

Let's take another look at Pfizer's mission statement that is the first thing a visitor sees on its website:

"At Pfizer, we're inspired by a single goal: your health. That's why we're dedicated to developing new, safe medicines to prevent and treat the world's most serious diseases. And why we are making them available to the people who need them most. We believe that from progress comes hope and the promise of a healthier world."

As comedy this works. Try convincing one family member of Pfizer's victims how funny it is.

This is a one of a kind thing, right? Wrong.

This is the fourth time since 2002 that Pfizer has settled a lawsuit that alleged wrongdoing. Those lawsuits, and subsequent settlement payments were for victims of asbestos-related diseases and for the failure of a mechanical heart valve. The mechanical heart valve fiasco, which Pfizer denied for years, caused the deaths of 500 people and cost Pfizer $200 million.

Just a month ago, Pfizer agreed to pay $75 million to Nigerian authorities-authorities, not, victims- after illegal drug trials during a meningitis outbreak in 1996 that left 11 children dead.

It makes you wonder what Pfizer will admit to next month. It makes you wonder what Pfizer's directors have been doing, not to mention their shareholders. And, while we're at it, it makes you wonder where is the public outrage? A bigger deal was made over Michael Vick joining the Eagles than over this. The press had more to say about the President riding a bike without wearing a helmet than it does about this.

As if this isn't enough, Pfizer is currently trying to buy Wyeth for $68 billion. If that deal goes through, Pfizer will control 40% of the world's prescription drug production.

So, at Pfizer the English majors proclaim one thing while the MBA's upstairs in the executive wing do another thing. Pfizer is inspired by one goal, and its money.

Like other segments of our society, notably politics and banking, Pfizer says one thing and does another.

Pfizer, as the record shows, is corrupt. The company has been corrupt for years and years: witness the fines, the senseless deaths, the holding out on the getting to the truth until it was forced on them. But in American business these days, that's okay because Pfizer is inspired by one goal.

In June, 1900, Theodore Roosevelt published an article titled, "Latitude and Longitude Among Reformers." Here is an excerpt that applies not only to Pfizer but to all of our society today.

"The successful man, whether in business or in politics, who has risen by conscienceless swindling of his neighbors, by deceit and chicanery, by unscrupulous boldness and unscrupulous cunning, stands toward society as a dangerous wild beast. The mean and cringing admiration which such a career commands among those who think crookedly or not at all makes this kind of success perhaps the most dangerous of all the influences that threaten our national life. Our standard of public and private conduct will never be raised to the proper level until we make the scoundrel who succeeds feel the weight of a hostile public opinion even more strongly than the scoundrel who fails."

photo:  faggy.wordpress.com/.../pfizer-buys-rival-wyeth/