$2.3 billion a small price to pay for Pfizer

The U.S. Justice Department’s $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer yesterday for unlawful drug promotion is a big slap on the wrist, but is it enough to stop drug companies from behaving like this in the future? Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, is not convinced it is.

In a statement quoted by The Washington Post, Wolfe pointed out that Pfizer broke a record set by Eli Lilly & Company this past January, when the Justice Department called the more that $500 million in criminal penalties “the largest individual corporate criminal fine” in U.S. history. In Wolfe’s opinion, this shows no misbehavior has or will change.

Unfortunately, the ever escalating fines are unlikely to stop drug companies from continuing to bribe doctors because they represent just a fraction of drug company profits and no on has gone to jail.

This settlement comes at a time when federal agencies are trying to stop fraud in the health care industry. In Wolfe’s opinion, this will only be accomplished through much larger fines and forcing corporate leaders to serve jail time. Read Wolfe’s entire statement here.