Pfizer’s History of Crimes and Misdemeanors

Richard Gale and Gary Null

Progressive Radio Network, March 10, 2021

Whenever it is necessary to make an evaluation of the efficacy and safety of conventional drug-based medicine, it is imperative to include the rising rate of iatraogenic injuries and deaths – medical errors – that has become the third leading cause of death in the US after cardiovascular disease and cancer. The majority of these deaths are caused by FDA approved drugs’ adverse effects and when patients are prescribed multiple medications in the absence of thorough clinical research to determine the safety of their synergistic effects.  Consequently our health agencies’ oversight and monitoring of drugs on the market is dismal and deadly.

Among the top pharmaceutical companies whose drugs and products have most contributed to the nation’s iatrogenic epidemic is the $51 billion multinational behemoth Pfizer Inc, the world’s third most profitable drug maker. Pfizer is one of America’s oldest pharma firms, founded by Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart in a Brooklyn red brick building in 1849. The chemical company began to boom in the 1880s after becoming the leading manufacturer of the chelating, flavoring and preservative agent citric acid. With its expertise in fermentation chemistry, Pfizer later became a leader in the production of penicillin and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Today its 300-plus drugs are commonplace in American doctors’ tool kits: Zoloft, Zantac, Viagra, Enbrel, Flagyl, Lipitor, and several antibiotics. It is also a major player in the generic drug market and is rapidly becoming a leading vaccine maker with its pneumococcus vaccine (Prevnar) and more recently with its controversial mRNA vaccine against the SARS-CoV2 virus. In the irrational panic to quickly get a vaccine against the SARS virus to market, its Covid-19 vaccine was the first to receive emergency use authorization

Pfizer’s legacy of lawsuits goes back to the late 1950s. According to the Corporate Research Project, it “has been at the center of controversies over its drug pricing for more than 50 years.” Back in 1958 it was charged by the Federal Trade Commission for price fixing and making false statements to dubiously acquire a patent for tetracycline. Two years later the Justice Department filed criminal antitrust charges against Pfizer’s board chairman and president on the matter. Again in 1996, the drug company paid out $408 million to settle another lawsuit for price fixing and gouging pharmacies. In 2002, Pfizer was caught defrauding the federal Medicaid program for over-charging its flagship cholesterol drug Lipitor. Other similar charges include a $784 million settlement for underpaid rebates to Medicaid and $107 million fine for overcharging its epilepsy drug phenytoin sodium.

The company has even stooped so low as to engage in bogus advertising. Shortly after the Second World War, Pfizer created snazzy ads for the Journal of the American Medical Association for its antibiotic line. The ads included named physicians endorsing its drugs. However, according to a Saturday Review investigation, the doctors turned out to be completely fictitious.

As the company is positioned to earn $19 billon from its Covid-19 vaccine, at the same time it is legally battling against hundreds of lawsuits due to its popular heartburn drug, Zantac, being contaminated with the carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), an “extremely hazardous” toxin used in rocket fuel and industrial lubricants. Although the FDA erroneously claims that Zantac’s NDMA levels are low, they have still been measured to be between 3,000 and 26,000 times higher than the FDA’s safety cut-off point. Another adverse effect of NDMA is hepatotoxicity leading to liver fibrosis and scarring.

According to the law firm Matthews and Associates, since “the history of Pfizer is rife with so much subterfuge and under-the-table dealing that the company will need all the help it can get to promote confidence in its hastily assembled Covid vaccine.” If the mainstream media were to honestly cover the NDMA trial underway and other Pfizer confrontations with the law, perhaps its vaccine would not be receiving such uncritical fanfare. There would be more scrutiny and warranted suspicion to question how Pfizer could have developed a truly safe and effective vaccine in such a short period of time.

In our earlier reviews of the criminal records of Merck and Johnson and Johnson, we did not find evidence of the depths of demented ethical behavior solely to manipulate its market control as we do with Pfizer. In fact, Pfizer seemingly is in competition to outdo notorious hedge fund vulture capitalist and underworld strategies to bully governments in return for securing supplies of its Covid-19 vaccine. For example, Pfizer demanded that Argentina pay the company compensation for any civil lawsuits filed against it. The government compromised and ruled that Pfizer would only pay fines for any negligence on the company’s behalf with respect to supply and distribution. But that was not agreeable to the vaccine maker. Instead it then demanded that Argentina provide its sovereign assets –bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings – as collateral to secure vaccine supplies.

In Brazil, Pfizer’s aggressive and malignant efforts failed. It demanded that the Brazilian government turn over a guaranteed fund deposited in a foreign bank account and that the government would waive its sovereign assets abroad. Pfizer also demanded that it not be held legally liable for any injuries or deaths due to its vaccine. Correctly, President Bolsonaro called Pfizer’s demands “abuse” and rejected the deal.

If this gives the impression that Pfizer is a serial predator on poorer foreign nations, Argentina and Brazil are only the most recent examples. In 1996, the company conducted illegal experimental trials with an unapproved experimental antibiotic, Trovan, on Nigerian children without parental knowledge or consent. The case was not raised in a US federal court until 2001 after thirty Nigerian families sued. After 100 children were given the drug as guinea pigs, “eleven children in the trial died, others suffered brain damage, were partly paralyzed or became deaf.”  Nigerian medical experts ruled that Pfizer violated international law and the US federal case was eventually settled a decade later for an undisclosed amount.

Pfizer’s dirty politics and in our opinion mafia-like activity in the Nigeria scandal, reminding us of Monsanto’s sleazy schemes, goes beyond the dangers of an experimental antibiotic. Wikileaks made available State Department cables showing that Pfizer had hired spies to dig up dirt to frame a former Nigerian attorney general in order to get the lawsuit dropped. It also tried to shift the blame of the scandal on Doctors Without Borders by making a false claim that the non-profit charitable group was responsible for dispensing the antibiotic.

Already in the US, thanks to Reagan’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, vaccine makers are off the hook for being held legally accountable for vaccine adverse effects. Now the company is demanding that other nations change their laws solely for Pfizer to secure maximum profits from its Covid vaccine. Pfizer’s actions are utterly parasitical. Nor should we forget that the development of its vaccine has largely been publicly funded. Its Covid vaccine partner Biontech received $445 million from the German government, and Pfizer has received almost $2 billion from US taxpayers as pre-payment for a vaccine.

Pfizer’s leech-like behavior goes back even further. In 2003, after it appeared that Congress might pass a bill to permit cheaper prescription drugs in Canada for sale in the US, Pfizer attempted to change the rules of the game and demand Canadian pharmacies to order directly from Pfizer rather than wholesalers in order to dominate the market and interrupt the supply chain.

Pfizer’s track record for fines and lawsuits for violation of its drug safety profiles and ethical marketing are equally damning. In 2009, it was fined $2.3 billion for what was then the largest healthcare felony settlement in US pharmaceutical history for illegally promoting its drugs, including its painkiller Bextra. $1.2 billion was just for the criminal fine; at the time, this was the largest ever imposed in the US for any issue. In 2011, it was found guilty of racketeering charges for illegally marketing its anticonvulsant drug Neurontin and paid $142 million. Three years later Pfizer was fined $430 million to settle criminal charges for bribing doctors to promote and prescribe the same drug. 

Nor should we ignore Pfizer’s dreadful environmental record:

1971 – Long time illegal dumping of a million gallons of industrial waste annually from its Groton plant into the Long Island Sound;

1991 – A $3.1 million fine for refusing to install pollution control equipment in its Delaware River plant

1994 – A $1.5 million fine for illegal dumping at a toxic waste site in Rhode Island

2003 – Paid a $700 million settlement for dumping PCBs in Anniston, Alabama.

Now, we are facing the widespread distribution of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA
Covid-19 vaccine wherein the trials to determine its level of safety and efficacy are still underway. It is still too early to make any determination of Pfizer having been engaged in any nefarious activities to get its vaccine rushed to the public. Impropriety and medical negligence so far lies on our government’s shoulders and our bought-off corporate media. Federal health agencies simply ignored their regulatory obligations and gave the vaccine a green light prematurely. Nevertheless, reports of injuries and deaths continue to mount and we will not have any sense of the full cost to human life and suffering from vaccine injuries for a while. In the meantime, China has suspended the mRNA vaccine after a flurry of deaths among Norwegian elderly. The Gibraltar Chronicle reported the deaths of 13 people within two days of receiving Pfizer’s vaccine and that number has risen to over 50 on the tiny island. Hundreds of vaccinated Israelis are still coming down with SARS-CoV2 infections after vaccination. The highly prestigious journal Science reported the growing concerns over the Pfizer vaccine’s polyethylene glycol nanoparticle and its relationship to the growing number of rare but serious allergic reactions and cases of anaphylaxis. And in a briefing document released by the CDC’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee gave warning that the Pfizer vaccine trials give indication of unusual and unexpected antibody responses, cytokine storms and pathogenic priming that give rise to critical illness and death.

Therefore there is no evidence whatsoever that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine can scientifically and consensually be ruled as safe. But as we have observed from Pfizer’s litany of criminal activities above, safety and effectiveness of a drug or product has never been a priority in the company’s executive office.

All told, these examples of Pfizer’s culture of greed, deception, political maneuvering and disingenuous tactics has collectively injured countless people. Pfizer is a global corporation. Its drugs, and now its Covid-19 vaccine are marketed globally. To better understand Pfizer, the company should be perceived foremost as a cash cow for Wall Street. Its prime directive is selling drugs; its history of misdemeanors and crimes should indicate the company holds no integrity or medical ethics with a sincere commitment to prevent and treat disease. For firms such as Pfizer, injuries and deaths are the necessary collateral damage of getting poorly tested products on the market and as fast as possible. In our opinion, a black box warning should be slapped on the Pfizer logo. And should we trust such a company with the potential to vaccinate an enormous percent of the world population with an experimental vaccine?

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