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ARTICLE SUMMARY: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will pay $2.3 billion to settle a lawsuit brought against the drug manufacturer by the Department of Justice. The suit alleged that Pfizer engaged in unlawful practices to market its products to doctors. The penalty reflects the fact that Pfizer is a repeat offender. Allegations of wrongdoing were exposed by Pfizer employees, some of whom lost jobs and will share in a portion of the settlement.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Off-label marketing involves promoting a drug for uses other than those approved by the Food & Drug Administration. The practice is illegal in the United States. Whistleblower Glenn Demott says “there’s a wide range in ethics in physicians” with respect to how they view off-label promotions. What are some of the factors that influence this range?
  2. While Glenn Demott did call attention to wrongdoing at Pfizer, he was not the first to do so (i.e., he waited until after someone else spoke out). How might ethics intensity and moral development explain the decision to wait but to eventually speak out?
  3. How did Pfizer sales representatives rationalize off-label promotions?
  4. Do you believe what Demott did was the right thing to do? Why or why not?

SOURCE: S. Hoholik, “Pfizer Must Pay $2.3 Billion,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch (Retrievable online at http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/09/03/Pfizer.ART_ART_09-03-09_A1_E0EV3LA.html?sid=101)

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