Pfuck you, Pfizer (Too Big to Punish!)

Paraphrased: Pfizer marketed the painkiller Bextra for purposes it was not approved for. Pfizer used a massive marketing scheme to do it, to the detriment of the public health. They got caught.

It was determined that the appropriate legal response, that is, forbidding Pfizer from any participation in Medicare/Medicaid would be impossible because…wait for it!..Pfizer was too big to punish! The appropriate legal remedy would wreck the Medicare system because Pfizer was essential to the supply of needed drugs!

Further punchline…(maybe you should run and toss your cookies now, this one is going to be rough…)

Pfizer was then permitted to set up a dummy corporation, a corporation which had never done anything at all, and the Feds permitted that empty shell to be held liable. Of course, that empty shell will never be permitted again to do something it had never done in the first place!

I should like to calmly suggest that this is evidence that corporate America has gained far too much power in the halls of government. If that calm suggestion should fail of effect, I am prepared to seize you by the lapels and scream it into your face at the top of my lungs.

Outtakes:

Oh, right. Of course.

Gambling at Rick’s Place? Shocked! Shocked!

So, there’s no way to find out who made the decisions, eh? No records kept? No memos passed, and signed? Was it gremlins?

You know, some lefty is probably going to come in here and suggest that this just shows that the government is far, far too cozy with corporate America.

Ya think?

Time to break up the company.

You do not, repeat, do not mess with the company that makes Viagra. You’ll always lose. Too many old legislators and regulators out there.

You conveniently left out the part where Pfizer paid more than $1 billion in fines and another $1 billion in civil settlements for this stunt.

The government does have a point. What good would be served by excluding Pfizer entirely from Medicare? You’d fuck over a hell of a lot of people who need Pfizer drugs. Is that justice?

Also, as a Pfizer shareholder[sup]1[/sup], my response is: neener neener neener.
[sub]1. I was a Pfizer shareholder for years before getting sick of their mediocre performance, and invested in Wyeth instead last year. Then Pfizer bought Wyeth. Doh![/sub]

Just to be clear (from your link):

I’d agree. There are already big enough mergers they could just undo, and then punish the one that did the worst.

As for Viagra: separate that section out. Punish everything else.

ETA: You know what would have been best? Just take away they’re patent to the drug they improperly marketed. You can’t sell it responsibly? You don’t get to have a monopoly on it. That would to me be the best way to insure it doesn’t happen again.

Boy, you had me going there for a second, Fredo. Had me thinking you really were an unfeeling pusbag without a hint of conscience! Good one!

You had me going there for a second, too! It’s almost as if you persist in completely ignoring everything that doesn’t give you a deep, comforting sense of outrage.

Whatever would you do if a day went by without something to piss you off? You might actually have to live with your own self-loathing for a minute.

Perhaps Congress should pass a law permitting the revocation of patents on any drugs purchased by Medicare if a drug company willfully misleads the public for profit. That would be a more effective penalty than seizing a few months of the offending company’s profit, and it would permit Medicare patients to continue to get needed drugs.

ETA: Just saw that BigT also suggests this. It’s a movement!

I think a major problem with existing legislation is that monetary fines for corporate wrongdoing have not kept pace with the size of modern corporations. If Pfizer had been convicted and fined $10 billion, there would be no need to mess with Medicare contracts or pat elucidator on the head.

I’m in.

I think we have a “groundswell of support”!!

I think this is an excellent plan.

As the article itself notes, though, the profits from drugs like this are so huge that, under the current system, the companies can simply accept the possibility of a fine as another cost of doing business.

When a lawbreaker can factor in the cost of punishment, decide that he will come out ahead even if he’s caught, and make a rational decision to commit the crime anyway, then there’s something wrong with the system of penalties and enforcement.

Sure, take away the patent on a worthless drug, that’s what will teach them!

Bextra is a selective Cox-2 inhibitor, and was withdrawn from the market just like it’s relative Vioxx for the exact same reasons.

Well, I’ll tell you, scooter. I raised a boy any man would be proud to have for a friend. Got some friends I’ve had for more than forty years, and a few more I picked up along the way. Got a woman with a mind like a steel trap, makes Scareltt Johannsen looks like an underfed skank. Thinks my jokes are funny. Well, says she does, which is close enough. Got few enemies, and no victims.

Here you tell it, you got money. Good for you.

Best count your fingers when you pull yer hand back.

But did the drug company know, when it began deceiving consumers, that the drug would prove to be worthless in the long run? The threat of taking away the patent could, in other cases, act as a deterrent.

To hear the company exec’s tell it, they didn’t know diddly, so they made no decisions relative to any deterrence, real or imagined. All the important decisions took place way down there in the middle management level, they didn’t know anything “…until federal prosecutors began to show them the evidence…”

You know, I’m not quite sure I buy that. Have my doubts.

Your wife sounds fat.

Was that really necessary?

I agree.

If the fine for speeding was $5, I’d always speed. At $100, I begin to pay attention. At $1000, I’d never speed. Fines should hurt, according to the offense.

And, y’know, if corporations are persons, send them to prison. Make the executives and the middle managers and the workers report to Joliet for their days work. Or possibly assign the company a probation officer who sits with the Board of Directors, and can examine any employee’s work at any time for any reason.

The way to do that is to charge the actual persons involved with their own criminal offenses. (This happens frequently in corporate criminal cases; I don’t know if it happened in this particular case, though.) The corporation and the natural persons running it can be held liable independently.