Pfizer unit sentenced, fined in Bextra case

Associated Press / October 17, 2009

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A subsidiary of Pfizer formally agreed to pay a $1.195 billion fine at its sentencing yesterday after pleading guilty to illegally promoting the pain killer Bextra.

Pharmacia and Upjohn had pleaded guilty in September to one count of felony misbranding as part of a settlement agreement that hit New York-based Pfizer Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3 billion in fines for illegal drug promotions. The $1.195 billion in fines and $150 million in criminal forfeiture were formally imposed yesterday when the company was sentenced in US District Court in Boston.

The company promoted Bextra as a treatment for acute pain and surgical pain when it had not been approved for those uses by federal regulators. The drug was approved to treat arthritis.

It was taken off the market in 2005 amid evidence it raised the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.