Monday, September 7, 2009
Just How Much Money Does Pfizer Have?
The Department of Justice has settled with Pfizer Pharmaceutical for $2.3 Billion. This is actually the fourth settlement with Pfizer,or one of its subsidiaries, since 2002 over illegal marketing, but those fines only totaled a paltry $513 million. I guess it is a good thing that the U.S. Government will be taking in some big money, rather than just paying it out in stimulus money, bailing out banks and escalating a war in Afghanistan. Way to go Justice Department! You are earning your keep.
These settlements were the result of whistleblowers who claimed Pfizer sent doctors on all-expense paid trips to resorts, gave out free massages and paid kickbacks to get them to prescribe drugs for off label uses.
I am glad the U.S. coffers will get a bit of $. What I am wondering, however, is just how much money does Pfizer have? The settlement had little effect on Pfizer's stock, which closed just 10¢ lower. Carol Levenson, research director at a corporate-bonds research service said, "And while $2.3 billion ain't chicken feed, it's affordable". Affordable? That tells me Pfizer is loaded and these types of fines are just annoyances.
Just how big is a billion dollars? A billion dollars is more than many total economies in third world countries. A billion minutes is roughly 1,900 years and the Roman Empire was in full swing. A billion hours ago we were living in the stone age. If we wanted to pay down a billion dollars of the US debt, paying one dollar a second, it would take 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 40 seconds.
I will be pondering this the next time I remember that Medicare Part D (drug coverage for Medicare recipients) was passed with the caveat that there would be no contracting for better prices from Big Pharma. The government (all of us) will just pay the asking price. I will think of this when my patient's blood pressure shoots up or her arthritis pain is worse because she can't afford to pay over $100 a month for a single medication.
Just how much money does Pfizer have?
(a rhetorical question...I can look it up too)
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 10:33 PM