Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, agreed to pay $24 million to resolve federal charges. It was paying kickbacks and inflating sales by reimbursing Medicare patients for out-of-pocket medicine costs three years ago. The corporation pushed patients to use Pfizer pharmaceuticals by making prohibitively expensive medicine effectively accessible for them, even while the price of one of those treatments, reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid, rose 44 percent to $225,000 per year.
Now, Pfizer is suing Uncle Sam to make legal what is essentially the same technique that it was guilty of three years ago — a defiant response to a federal investigation that has seen a dozen drug corporations accused of similar tactics. According to health policy researchers, a Pfizer victory may cost taxpayers billions of dollars and remove a crucial restraint over pharma marketing after decades of regulatory weakening and skyrocketing medicine prices.
Since the Food and Medication Administration-approved limited TV drug advertisements in the 1980s, the courts and rules have leaned in pharma’s favor. Legal academics contend that other businesses of all kinds have obtained free speech rights, permitting aggressive marketing and political influence that would have been unthinkable decades before. Pfizer initially claimed that the present law violates its First Amendment speech rights, essentially stating that it should be able to speak freely with third-party organizations to direct patient help.