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US drug companies paid $15bn fines for criminal and civil violations over the past five years

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7360
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

Illegal marketing activities by drug companies have risen over the past five years, leading to major penalties when companies forced to settle with the federal and state governments, says Public Citizen, an independent US watchdog organisation. It has called the drug industry “the biggest defrauder of the federal government.”

Although reports of drug companies’ misdeeds have been reported before, Public Citizen’s new report summarises the situation.

Industry spokespeople said that the problems were behind them and that the industry had put stricter guidelines in place.

Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s health research group, told the BMJ that in the past five years the drug industry moved ahead of the defence industry and all other industry sectors in the amount of civil penalties for fraud under the False Claims Act against the federal government. The report said that of 165 drug company settlements comprising $19.8bn (£12.8bn; €15bn) in penalties over the past 20 years, 73% …

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