Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pfizer executive pleads guilty to distribution of a misbranded drug - Bextra. So why did a U.S. court hide the fact that the exec worked Pfizer?

It turns out the court documents don't list the Pfizer name--they call the company "Pharmco."

And the regular press haven't reported a word about this story in spite of the fact that this executive told "roughly 100 representatives under her supervision that they should promote a pain drug for uses she knew had been rejected by the Food and Drug Administration."

This is what Boston Business Journal wrote:

A former drug company sales executive pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to telling the roughly 100 representatives under her supervision that they should promote a pain drug for uses she knew had been rejected by the Food and Drug Administration.

Mary Holloway, who is 47 years old and lives in New Jersey, was a regional sales manager for a company listed in court documents as Pharmco. The drug she pleaded guilty to inappropriately selling carried the brand name Bextra. The painkiller has since been pulled from the market by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), which had acquired its prior owner.

“Holloway was aware of the FDA's safety concerns, but...she nonetheless had her sales staff of approximately 100 employees sell Bextra for precisely the uses that the FDA refused to approve,” U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan's office wrote in a news release.

Holloway pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of a misbranded drug. Under federal guidelines, she could be sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of $100,000. But according to court documents, Sullivan's office agreed to recommend two years' probation and a $75,000 fine.

In recommending the reduced sentence, Sullivan's office cited Holloway's “prompt acceptance of personal responsibility...and information known to the U.S. attorney at this time.” The nature of that “information” is not disclosed.

Holloway's involvement with prosecutors dates at least to January 2006, court records indicate.

Court documents available Monday night don't suggest any injuries were linked to dosages prescribed by doctors who received inappropriate advice linked to Holloway.

Late last year, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and counterparts in three dozen states entered into a civil settlement related to the marketing of Bextra and a related drug.

The investigation continues, Sullivan's office said.


So how do we know that Mary Holloway worked for Pfizer? Of course the fact that her LinkedIn page says she spent 18 years at Pfizer means she probably did.

We also do know that she was allegedly the boss of Thomas Farina from Pfizer, according to a comment on Pharmalot last year.

Thomas Farina, a former district sales manager at Pfizer, was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which was reported on March 19, 2009, after he was found altering documents on his computer during a federal investigation of off-label sales of Bextra and Celebrex. He faces a possible 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also allegedly instructed three of the reps he supervised to delete and alter incriminating documents on their computers. The verdict came in a criminal trial in federal court in Massachusetts.

Ms. Holloway was also identified as a Pfizer employee on Cafe Pharma back in 2007.

So . . . Pfizer sales execs are now starting to go to jail for the Bextra scandal which has resulted in Pfizer taking a $2.3 billion charge for off-label marketing, which Pfizer tried to hide by reporting this whopping amount the same day they reported they were going to buy Wyeth.

The only remaining questions are . . . who is next and why is a US Court assisting Pfizer's PR machine by hiding the Pfizer name when a Pfizer executive pleads guilty to a crime she committed as a Pfizer employee?

Did Pfizer negotiate a deal keeping their name hidden as part of the $2.3 billion settlement?


Anonymous said...

I believe I have fowarded the above link to you in the past, and it illustrates what you posit with the Pfizer situation. And the deals that are made by pharm corps. and the DOJ.

Anonymous said...

Pharmacia, now owned by Pfizer, did the exact off-label conspiracy with their low molecular weight product, Fragmin, some time ago. Pharmacia instructed its sales representatives to create protocols for the use of Fragmin for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis. At the time, Fragmin was not indicated for DVT. This company needs to learn to bow to the will of its regulators.