Tuesday, May 23, 2006

$10,000 Fine If I Talk

There was something I forgot to tell you yesterday, when I wrote about Pfizer's Super Secret Secrets and how they didn't want me to see documents related to my own litigation against them.

They didn't just want to keep their most secret documents from me, and only give my lawyers access to files they would mark "highly confidential." They also want me to pay a $10,000 fine if I reveal anything from the less secret documents, marked "confidential."

$10,000 is a lot of money. It's going to be pretty much my annual income this year.

So I wonder, is this really fair? Do they have anything to fear from me?

Have I ever been convicted of breaking a contract? No.

Have I ever been convicted of leaking confidential information? No.

Have I ever been convicted of anything, anywhere? No.

Have I ever paid any fines for anything? No.

Uh. Maybe that was wrong. I think I had a speeding ticket about ten years ago. But that's not enough to treat me like I was a criminal.

So let's check out Pfizer.

Have they ever been convicted or plead guilty to anything? Yes, yes, yes.

Pfizer's division Warner-Lambert agreed to pay $430 million to resolve criminal and civil charges related to off-label promotion. Pfizer agreed to pay $49 million for defrauding the drug Medicaid rebate program. Pfizer is one of the few companies that have been forced to sign not just one, but two "Corporate Integrity Agreements."

Perhaps you wonder what a "Corporate Integrity Agreement" (CIA) is?

It is something very bad. Since the Justice Department can't put corporations in jail (the way they do this with regular criminals), they instead make them sign a CIA, in which the company promises never ever to commit the same crime again. And if the company just can't stop themselves, like Pfizer, they have to sign a second CIA, like Pfizer.

And the fines are astronomical if they violate this agreement. Pfizer has to pay a whopping $1,000 each day they violate the agreement.

So let's step back for a moment and compare notes. Pfizer makes $50 billion a year, and negotiated a deal with the Office of the Inspector General to pay $1,000 per day if they fall back into crime.

But Pfizer wants me, (who right now makes around $10,000 per year) to pay $10,000 if my tongue slips.

Pfizer, I've got a proposal for you: If my tongue slips (which it won't), I'll pay you the same amount, as a % of my earnings, as you pay the government if you fall back into crime.

Based on my current income, that comes to 0.02 cent for each infraction.

Pfizer, do we have a deal?

Helloooooo?? Anybody there?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My hat's off to you for your position and rationale! There is scant little justice in this world and whenever I see someone taking a stand in support of the principles of justice and against the practice of loopholes and technicalities kinds of justice, well, I've just got to give some kind of recognition.

There you have it; warmest regards and best wishes!