Based in the United States and ranked as the largest pharmaceutical company in the world until last year, where they were surpassed by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer is now ranked by Forbes as the second largest drug company in the world but it has had its own fair share of controversies throughout its existence.
Not being much of a science-y person myself, I still find pharmaceutical companies fascinating. The companies, full of scientific geniuses, spend countless hours and billions of dollars researching and developing what they hope will be a new drug that will cure some type of problem or ailment that is faced by humans today. But what is nothing ever comes of their research and their millions of dollars go to waste? It’s a risk that they’re willing to take (and I, for one, am happy that they are), but what if it is at the expense of the very ones that they are seeking to heal?
During the meningitis epidemic of 1996 in Nigeria, Pfizer tested their “dangerous new antibiotic called Trovan on children … without receiving proper consent form their parents, … using their children as human guinea pigs”. In 2009, Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion in a health care fraud settlement after it was exposed that they were intentionally misleading the public by misbranding their painkiller drug, Bextra. In 2010, “1.37 million [was awarded] to a former Pfizer scientist who claimed she was sickened by a genetically engineered virus at a company lab and was then fired for raising safety concerns”.
While I think it can be argued that drugs must be tested in order to verify their effectiveness, I think that Pfizer has overstepped its place by not properly informing people of the risks involved with its trials. I also think that it is particularly outrageous that they were administering a drug that hasn’t been approved by the FDA to children without parental consent and rather than taking safety concerns seriously, they’d rather eliminate the problem. The information above was news to me, which is likely the result of my lack of awareness and attention to news a few years ago. However, I can’t help but wonder if Pfizer’s position as one of the top drug companies in the world has influenced the media as well as other institutions to look the other way as they’re trying to develop cures to illnesses for what can be considered “the greater good”.
http://www.corp-research.org/pfizer (more links embedded within the report)