The Huffington Post recently learned that pharmaceutical industry insiders are expecting the health care reform legislation agreed to between the White House and Senate Democrats to result in a surge of new profits for drug companies -- more than $137 billion, according to one estimate.
But, are these profits deserved? Over the past several years, the Justice Department has clashed with a number of pharmaceutical companies over what it says were a host of illegal schemes to boost profits. As a result, huge drug companies have paid out billions in fines and settlements.
These charges include paying kickbacks to health care providers, illegal pricing and off-label marketing (which is a euphemism for pushing drugs on patients who don't need them). Bloomberg reported this week that the practice of off-label marketing -- where drug companies promote a drug for uses other than those approved by the FDA -- is widespread:
"Marketing departments of many drug companies don't respect any boundaries of professionalism or the law," says Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston and author of "Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs" (Random House, 2004). "The Pfizer and Lilly cases involved the illegal promotion of drugs that have been shown to cause substantial harm and death to patients."
With the massive penalties and settlements that drug companies have paid out in the name of profits, we took a look at some of the biggest cases of the last several years. Check them out below, and vote for the worst offender.