In recent years the USA have seen some of the biggest fines for multinational corporations in US history. It were the big multinational pharmaceutical companies which received those extremely high fines resulting from US court settlements.
See for this the Wikipedia article titled “List of largest pharmaceutical settlements“.
As investigative reporter Duff Wilson explains in this article, “for decades, antipsychotic drugs were a niche product. Today, they’re the top-selling class of pharmaceuticals in America, generating annual revenue of about $14.6 billion and surpassing sales of even blockbusters like heart-protective statins.
While the effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs in some patients remains a matter of great debate, how these drugs became so ubiquitous and profitable is not. Big Pharma got behind them in the 1990s, when they were still seen as treatments for the most serious mental illnesses, like hallucinatory schizophrenia, and recast them for much broader uses, according to previously confidential industry documents that have been produced in a variety of court cases. (…).
Today, more than a half-million youths take antipsychotic drugs, and fully one-quarter of nursing-home residents have used them. Yet recent government warnings say the drugs may be fatal to some older patients and have unknown effects on children.
The new generation of antipsychotics has also become the single biggest target of the False Claims Act, a federal law once largely aimed at fraud among military contractors. Every major company selling the drugs — Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — has either settled recent government cases for hundreds of millions of dollars or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud.
Two of the settlements, involving charges of illegal marketing, set records last year for the largest criminal fines ever imposed on corporations. One involved Eli Lilly’s antipsychotic, Zyprexa; the other involved a guilty plea for Pfizer’s marketing of a pain pill, Bextra. In the Bextra case, the government also charged Pfizer with illegally marketing another antipsychotic, Geodon; Pfizer settled that part of the claim for $301 million, without admitting any wrongdoing”.
Well, the astonishing fact about all this is that though those were the highest fines ever imposed to multinational companies in US history, they even then are obviously ineffective.
As Marcia Frellick states in this article, “a study of a recent escalation of fines paid by multinational drug companies to US federal and state governments shows that neither the amount of the penalties nor the measures to stop illegal practices are working, according to a report published online December 18 in BMJ. However, some experts think the problem lies, in part, with a complicated legal environment.
In the current study, Sidney Wolfe, MD, founder and senior adviser to the Health Research Group at Public Citizen in Washington, DC, reviewed all civil and criminal penalties paid to the US federal and state governments by pharmaceutical companies from January 1991 to July 2012 and found that they totaled $30.2 billion“. (…).
Dr. Wolfe’s analysis shows that from 2002, GSK and Pfizer were repeatedly fined, with penalties in the billions, for practices including fraudulent drug pricing, illegal off-label marketing of drugs, and paying kickbacks to healthcare professionals to encourage them to promote and prescribe drugs.
During this time, Dr. Wolfe notes, both companies signed several corporate integrity agreements, which are designed to prevent these offenses. The Office of the Inspector General negotiates such agreements with companies as part of the settlement of federal investigations. The terms include requiring companies to hire compliance officers or committees, develop written policies, and establish employee training programs.
On the basis of an analysis of the fines, Dr. Wolfe concludes, “There is a pathological lack of corporate integrity in many drug companies.”
If the usual judicial measures for such cases and even the highest fines imposed on multinational corporations in the history of the USA obviously are not able to stop the fraudulent and criminal business practises of those big pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, the lawmakers in the USA should start to think about other possible methods and actions to stop those multinational corporations to go on violating the laws of the United States.