Pfizer to pay US criminal fine of $1.3 billion over Bextra

A subsidiary of Pfizer, Pharmacia & Upjohn, was sentenced in US federal court on Friday to pay a criminal fine of $1.3 billion related to fraudulent marketing practices for COX-2 inhibitor Bextra (valdecoxib). The payment is part of a previously announced $2.3-billion settlement with the Department of Justice over marketing practices for Bextra and other drugs.

At the federal court sentencing, Pfizer's subsidiary was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion and a criminal forfeiture of $105 million. The DOJ noted that "this is the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the US for any matter." Commenting on the sentencing, Pfizer said it "is the last step in a process to bring final closure to the settlement agreement."

As part of the overall agreement with the DOJ announced in September, Pfizer also agreed to pay about $1 billion to settle civil allegations concerning promotional practices related to Bextra, as well as antibiotic Zyvox (linezolid), antipsychotic Geodon (ziprasidone) and epilepsy treatment Lyrica (pregabalin). In January, Pfizer said it took a $2.3-billion charge in late 2008 to resolve allegations involving Bextra and other drugs, but did not provide further details at the time.

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