HISTORY AND OVERVIEW
Pfizer is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. It is headquartered in New York City. It manufactures a number of different types of drugs in a variety of fields. Charles Pfizer started Pfizer in Brooklyn, New York in 1849. It has acquired a number of different companies including Warner-Lambert, Pharmacia, and Wyeth. Pfizer makes some of the world’s most well-known drugs including the best selling drug of all time, Lipitor, as well as Viagra, Celebrex, Zihtromax, and Diflucan.
There are nine main divisions in which Pfizer operates. These include primary care, specialty care, oncology, emerging markets, established prodcuts, consumer health, nutrition, animal health, and capsugel. Pfizer also spends a large amount of its revenue on research and development of new drugs. They split their research and development operations into two separate parts. One part focuses on discovering small molecules that could be beneficial in developing new medicines while the other sector focuses on researching larger molecules that could be relevant to the development of vaccines.
Pfizer has been part of a large number of controversial practices in its existence. Some of the more notable instances of these are highlighted below:
Bextra is a drug that is used for the treatment of arthritis. It acts as an anti-inflammatory that reduces pain and can also help to relieve menstrual symptoms. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay out 2.3 billion dollars as a means of settling various civil and criminal allegations against it. Pfizer was accused of marketing the drug for various symptoms that it had not been approved by the FDA to treat. This was the largest fine that the United States had ever issued.
Pfizer purchased Quigley Co. in the late 1960’s. It was later discovered that they had been selling products that contained asbestos. These products resulted in significant damages to those that had been exposed. Pfizer was forced to pay around $400 million as means of settlement.
Lipitor is the best selling drug of all time. It is used to treat people with high cholesterol in order to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Specifically, it is a statin. Lipitor gained FDA approval in 1996. In 2012, the FDA published a consumer report citing the potential of dangerous side effects that many people have experienced after taking Lipitor. The FDA found that those taking Lipitor had a significantly greater chance of developing type II diabetes than those not taking the drug. The FDA forced Pfizer to place warning labels on all bottles of Lipitor about these dangerous effects.
Many women that took the drug developed type II diabetes without any such warning from Pfizer. Many of these women are fighting against Pfizer claiming that the company did not provide adequate warning to patients or doctors about the many serious risks associated with the drug.