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Pfizer hit with 1.3 billion dollar penalty for illegal practices: no big deal if your annual revenue is 48 billion

The U.S. government began investigating Pfizer's illegal activities in promoting Bextra--a pain killer since removed from the market--in a criminal action arising out of the government's payment of medical expenses for its beneficiaries.  Ultimately, the U.S. Attorney concluded that Pfizer was illegally promoting Bextra and other drugs to doctors through kickbacks and other illegal practices that included marketing the drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.  The claim was recently resolved by agreement of Pfizer to pay $1.3 BILLION dollars in civil and criminal fines.  Given that Pfizer reported revenues of $48.3 billion dollars in 2008, this kind of punishment is unlikely to phase the company's executives or deter future illegal activity of this nature.   Bextra was removed from the market because it was implicated in an unreasonble number of heart attacks and strokes among pain-relief users.
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