As people throughout the USA get all excited for a COVID vaccine from Pfizer, my thoughts are only ones of concern. Pfizer has a long history of unethical, immoral, and illegal activities. Going all the way back to the postwar period. So Lets review some of Pfizer’s greatest hits.
In 1957 if was found Pfizer was using fictitious doctors to promote it’s antibiotics in Post WW2 USA. Promoting to doctors and hospitals directly was unheard of at this point in US history. There was a lot of pearl clutching over this marketing technique at that time which is commonplace today.
In 1991 Pfizer agreed to pay up to $200 million to settle lawsuits arising from an artificial heart valve implicated in about 300 deaths. In 1994 the company agreed to pay $10.75 million to settle Justice Department charges that it lied to regulators in seeking approval for the valves; it also agreed to pay $9 million to monitor valve patients at Veterans Administration hospitals or pay for removal of the device.
In 2000 a Washington Post article exposed, what can only be called a human rights violation, by Pfizer. According to the article Pfizer had been illegally testing an antibiotic on children in Nigeria during the 1996 meningitis outbreak. In 2006 Nigeria concluded that Pfizer had been testing a dangerous new antibiotic called Trovan on children in Nigeria without receiving proper consent from their parents. 33 families sued Pfizer in US court in 2001 and in 2009 Pfizer settled some of the suits brought against them in Nigerian courts for $75 million. Pfizer settled the 2001 US lawsuit but the case was sealed. Leaked government cables indicated Pfizer had attempted to dig up dirt on the AG of Nigeria to get leverage in the Nigerian lawsuits. The 2010 leak also showed they had falsely implicated the Doctors Without Borders organization for using Trovan in Nigeria to draw attention away form them.
In 2004 Pfizer reached a $60 million settlement of a class-action suit brought by users of Rezulin, a diabetes medication. Developed by Warner-Lambert, which had withdrawn it from the market shortly before the company was acquired by Pfizer in 2000. The withdrawal came after a large number of patients died from acute liver failure said to be caused by the drug.
In 2004 Pfizer plead guilty in federal court for off-label marketing of the anti-seizure drug Neurontin. They aggreged to pay $430 million in fines to settle the case. From 1996-2000 Warner-Lambert was patent holder of Neurontin.
In 2005 Pfizer admitted that a 1999 clinical trial found that elderly patients taking Celebrex had a greatly elevated risk of heart problems. Celebrex is a prescription NSAID still on the market today.
In 2009 Pfizer plead guilty in federal court and was forced to pay a $2.3 billion fine, $1.3 billion was a criminal fine. They had been illegally marketing a pain drug for unapproved purposes, off-label marketing. Pfizer’s marketing team promoted Bextra for acute pain, surgical pain and other unapproved uses, while its salesforce promoted the drug directly to doctors for those unapproved uses and dosages. The company also used advisory boards, consultant meetings and provided travel to lavish resorts to improperly promote Bextra to doctors and made misleading claims about the drug’s safety and efficacy. Besides Bextra, Pfizer had been found illegally marketing 12 other medications at that time. Bextra was removed from the market for safety concerns in 2005.
In 2009 Pfizer bought drug maker Wyeth. In 2010 a whistleblower lawsuit was started by the Federal government because Wyeth had been off-label marketing it’s kidney-transplant drug Rapamune. The drug was approved for kidney-transplants but they were marketing it for other organ transplants it wasn’t approved for. Pfizer plead guilty and settled for $491 million in criminal and civil penalties in 2014. Pfizer has some bad luck in purchasing companies that had been engaging in illegal activity.
In 2010 a scientist who had formerly worked for Pfizer was awarded $1.37 million due to a workplace injury she suffered. The lawsuit was regarding her claim she was sickened by a genetically engineered virus at a company lab and was then fired for raising safety concerns.
In the UK, the government fined drug makers Flynn and Pfizer £90 million in 2016 for increasing the price of an anti-seizure drug in the UK by 2,285% overnight in 2012. This year the drug companies were able to get a judge to overturn the ruling but the UK is appealing that judgement. Not the first time Pfizer was caught price gouging. In 2002 Pfizer agreed to pay $49 million to settle charges that one of its subsidiaries defrauded the federal Medicaid program by overcharging for its cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.
In 2019 the Federal government started an investigation into the Pfizer unit Meridian’s EpiPen product. The investigation stems from a 2017 warning the FDA gave Meridian regarding the safety of the EpiPen. The FDA said Meridian had failed to thoroughly investigate and take corrective actions regarding product failures, including EpiPen products that were associated with patient deaths and severe illnesses.
In 2019 44 states AG’s sued a group of Pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer. They claim these companies conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other medical conditions. They claim the companies Teva, Pfizer, Novartis and Mylan conspired to inflate the prices of generic drugs by as much as 1,000 percent. The first time Pfizer was accused of price fixing, sued, and fined was 1958 for their antibiotics.
This one is not a fine or judgement but a severe cause for concern. In 2019 we all became aware that Pfizer had concealed data regarding a rheumatoid arthritis drug. In 2015 Pfizer had found it’s drug Enbrel may reduce Alzheimer risk by up to 64%. Through internal discussion they concluded it would be too costly to start a clinical trial. Additionally they concluded there was no clear pathway for Enbrel to reach the brain. They decided to conceal the data to keep other scientists from going down that road. Basically they thought they were doing the world a favor, it would waste our time looking into it. In news reports many quoted researchers, outside of Pfizer, said they should have released the data. What I think, they didn’t release the data because they didn’t want someone else to profit off of their drug.
In August of 2020 the SEC started an investigation into Pfizer for allegedly bribing foreign officials in China and Russia to gain greater access to those markets. In 2012 Pfizer agreed to pay $60.2 million to settle investigations by the SEC and the Justice Department into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in several countries in Europe and Asia, including China and Russia. The First time Pfizer admitted to bribing government officials was 1976. They bribed three officials a total of $265,000 that is equal to $1,196,803.34 in 2020.
The overwhelming list of things this company has done or is still doing is sickening. They even have a history of environmental damage, partly from dumping waste into waterways. I could probably keep going. Instead check out this link, it has every illegal, unethical, or immoral act they have done.
So does this help you understand why I am very cautious about a vaccine from Pfizer. What is crazy is just about every drug company has a similar long history of illegal, unethical, or immoral acts. We can’t rely on the FDA for oversight. Every drug pulled from the market was once approved by them. With Pfizer’s COVID vaccine they are going to seek an order to use it before FDA approval is done. Even more of a reason to say no, for now.