Fraud. Kickbacks. Price-setting, bribery and illegal sales activities, including a felony count of assisting the Arab League in acquiring documents on Israeli business activities. Add in all the doctored and back-dated documents, federal and civil lawsuits, and billions of dollars in government sanctions, fines, and penalties – not to mention the deaths – and you’d think it was the script for a thriller global action movie.
But no, it’s just Big Pharma at its deceitful best, dancing all the way to the bank while continuing to defraud the world of billions of dollars, and endangering the lives of regular people like you and me.
When I set out to investigate some of the criminal activities that the 12 largest pharmaceutical companies had been convicted of lately, I had a general idea of the hornet’s nest I would be stepping into.
But the amount of gross misconduct, fraud and deceit I found was so insidious, so massive, and so overwhelming that I decided to narrow my original 12 picks down to just five for the purposes of this article.
Because of the uniqueness of one particular company’s offense – a felony guilty plea to conspiring with the Arab League – I added a sixth.
‘Get Out of Jail Free’
I’m sure that each and every one of the drug companies who have had to pay fines for their criminal activities would argue that they’ve hardly been given a “get out of jail free” pass. But when you look at what they took, compared to what they’ve had to pay back, I think you’ll agree their punishment amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist.
The six companies I’m highlighting, in descending order of their annual revenues, are:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Baxter International
Size-wise, Baxter is actually way down the list at No. 17. But I felt this company’s offenses were so egregious that I just couldn’t ignore them. You may remember that last year at the height of the so-called flu pandemic, Baxter “mistakenly” mixed the lethal, live, biological weapon/virus, H5N1, with seasonal flu, then sent it to labs around Europe.
The potential disaster could have meant worldwide devastation, had it not been for the fact that the Czech Republic tested the vaccine before distributing it – and found it was a deadly cocktail.
Would it surprise you then, that Baxter is the company that, in 1993, pled guilty to the felony count of violating U.S. laws prohibiting cooperation with the Arab boycott against Israel?
At the time, the Veterans Administration was so angered by this offense that they cited it as one reason why they wanted to suspend Baxter from all VA contracts for three years. The kicker was that the catalyst to the suspension was the VA’s contention that Baxter had “knowingly misled and provided false information to VA purchasing agents, in an attempt to get them to purchase Baxter products.”
In the end, Baxter agreed to pay more than $6.5 million in civil and criminal penalties to settle the Arab “mistake.”
Capitalism at its worst.