Pharmaceutical mammoth Pfizer faces more than 1,000 lawsuits from victims who say that the company knew about the relationship between birth defects and their #1 best-selling anti-depressant. A claim that Pfizer has, of course, battled against.
Now, however, new reports have surfaced that Pfizer’s own scientific advisers were warning of the deadly link for more than a year. Something that my team told you in 2012 was already going on. According to Bloomberg:
“A Pfizer Inc. report shows a scientist warned executives last year about a potential link between the anti-depressant drug Zoloft and birth defects and recommended changes to the medication’s safety warning.
The document from a Pfizer drug-safety official might complicate the company’s efforts to fend off lawsuits brought by parents of children with malformed hearts. Pfizer has consistently rejected suggestions Zoloft caused newborn abnormalities and said Monday the document was taken out of context by lawyers suing the company.”
In other words, Pfizer likely employed a popular Big Pharma tactic: ignore any science that reveals serious side effects, and instead choose to pay some relatively meager fines for the damages. After all, paying a few million (or billion) in fines is often nothing compared to the profits from drugs like Zoloft, which rakes in around $2.9 billion per year alone.
After all, Pfizer has a familiar history with government fines. It was in 2009 when the corporation paid one of the largest health care fraud settlements of all time, shelling out $2.3 billion for “the intent to defraud or mislead” consumers with their painkiller Bextra. Again, a fine that is less than the sales of Zoloft for a single year.
As we read further down into the Bloomberg report, yet again it seems that research indicating serious side effects was simply ignored:
“Pfizer researchers also acknowledged in a 1998 report, which has been introduced into evidence in the Philadelphia trial, they’d found more than a dozen side-effect reports about babies’ birth defects for which their mothers’ Zoloft use couldn’t be ruled out as a cause.”
Sadly, this is nothing new for the mega pharmaceutical conglomerate. Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturers of Prozac, did their best to hide the link between Prozac and increased risk of suicide for a number of years. Ultimately, it took a Harvard psychiatrist to proclaim that Americans were being treated like ‘guinea pigs’ by Eli Lilly & Co.’s Prozac for real public interest.
Will Pfizer end up paying a couple billion or less in fines for leading to an unknown number of life-threatening birth defects? It is the most likely outcome, for which the company is quite thankful. As long as they can write off the settlement loss and continue to take in the yearly profits, the company will get over it quickly.