As expected, Pfizer has settled with the DOJ over the off-label marketing of Genotropin. The price is $34.7 million; probably an insignificant sum in terms of reporting to the SEC. Read the news here.
If you want the full background on this sordid saga, read Brandweek's lengthy account of it here.
Without wishing to be a blowhard about it, I'd like to note that what Pfizer is pleading guilty to today--including the alleged kickback scheme that Peter Rost said existed with Express Scripts--is pretty much exactly what I reported a year ago.
Rost, in fact, is already doing his victory dance.
Let us not forget all the other important people in the drug biz who are loosely, so very loosely, connected to this scandal:
First, there's Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan, the former chief of Pharmacia, who asked his lieutenants to "follow up" when Pharmacia was first approached by an anti-aging quack to get into the off-label human growth hormone business. Pharmacia ended up signing a contract with that guy and he bought plenty of HGH.
Then there's Jeff Kindler, the CEO of Pfizer, who as counsel to Pfizer was warned by Rost that Pharmacia was engaged in off-label marketing prior to PFE's acquisition of the company. Pfizer bought the company anyway!
Don't forget Margriet Gabriel-Regis, an svp at Schering-Plough in the specialty care customer group--while at Pharmacia she wrote a memo telling Pharmacia staff that off-label marketing was wrong but that Pharmacia was going to conduct "a series of clinical studies" to "explore clinical endpoints in the elderly" anyway!
What about Steve Mahinka, the Morgan Lewis & Bockius lawyer who wrote a hilarious memo in February 2000 advising Pharmacia it was OK to get into the anti-aging business even though it was off-label? Why so hilarious? Because it neglected to mention the criminal statute that controls HGH marketing. D'oh!
Lastly, there's Rick Collier, the former general counsel at Pharmacia, who's now general counsel at Elan Pharma, who bought that advice from Mahinka.
The DOJ says thanks for the check.