Pfizer Inc. will pay $60 million to settle a foreign bribery dispute after authorities learned of misconduct in several countries including Kazakhstan, Russia, Croatia, China, and Bulgaria. Though officials at the pharmaceutical company claim not to have known about the bribery, The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice negotiated two civil settlements with Pfizer for a total of $45 million. Pfizer will pay another $15 million in other penalties.
Light has now been shed on the illegal sales tactics of Pfizer’s foreign subsidiaries, which date back to 2001. Sales reps were offering bonus programs and point incentives to “reward foreign officials who proved to be their best customers.” Pfizer reps in China allowed government doctors to earn points for every Pfizer prescription they wrote, and they could redeem their points for cellphones, medical books, and other gifts. In addition, China reps also awarded travel incentives: Pfizer’s sales team promised to pay for a trip for two doctors to a convention in Australia if the doctors promised to prescribe a Pfizer product to 80% of their patients.
Even though Pfizer clearly violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes bribing foreign government officials illegal, The Justice Department has said the Pfizer’s overall cooperation in the investigation has allowed for a reduction in penalties.
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