New York, NYPfizer Inc. has agreed to pay a $2.3 billion to settle an investigation into the company's drug marketing practices. As part of the $2.3 billion settlement, Pfizer will pay a $1.2 billion criminal fine. The fine is reportedly the largest in US history. An additional $1 billion in civil penalties will also be paid by the company.
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According to Bloomberg (September 2, 2009) the settlement involves Pfizer's sales practices regarding its painkiller Bextra
and three other medicines that Pfizer allegedly promoted for uses not authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Although it is not illegal for drugs to be used for "off-label" purposes, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote the drugs for such uses. Other drugs reportedly involved in the illegal marketing included Geodon (a schizophrenia drug), Zyvox (an antibiotic) and Zyrica (a seizure medication). Bloomberg notes that an investigation into Pfizer's practices uncovered kickback payments to doctors related to the sale of nine drugs, including Viagra and Lipitor.