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Company That Paid Largest Health Care Fraud Penalty in History Claims Its New COVID Drug Cuts Hospitalization, Death by 85%

Published: November 8, 2021 | Print Friendly and PDF


Never forget: Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History:

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 illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Department announced today.

Pharmacia & Upjohn Company has agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead. Bextra is an anti-inflammatory drug that Pfizer pulled from the market in 2005. Under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a company must specify the intended uses of a product in its new drug application to FDA. Once approved, the drug may not be marketed or promoted for so-called “off-label” uses – i.e., any use not specified in an application and approved by FDA. Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns. The company will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion, the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States for any matter. Pharmacia & Upjohn will also forfeit $105 million, for a total criminal resolution of $1.3 billion.

In addition, Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs – Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug – and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these, as well as other, drugs.

And now…

Via: Fierce Biotech:

Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid has cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 85% in a late-phase trial, prompting the Big Pharma to stop the study and race to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Pfizer’s phase 2/3 trial randomized non-hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients who were at high risk of progressing to severe illness to receive placebo or Paxlovid, a combination of the protease inhibitors PF-07321332 and ritonavir. The efficacy analysis is based on 1,219 patients.

There were six hospitalizations and no deaths among the 607 patients who received Paxlovid within five days of symptom onset, compared to 41 hospitalizations and 10 deaths in the placebo cohort. The rates of hospitalization or death in the Paxlovid and control arms were 1% and 6.7%, respectively, resulting in a risk reduction of 85%.

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