10/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

This Week In Cheating: Drugs

The drug industry is closely watching a trial in NYC - the first of about 900 state & federal cases - over the side effects from Merck's Fosamax. Merck, you may recall, also produced Vioxx, which garnered a $4.5 billion-ish settlement for about 200 court cases. Despite the litigation, Merck company stock has actually been upgraded to "strong buy"... for plaintiff's attorney.

Across the pharmaceutical hallway, Pfizer will pay $2.3 billion to end allegations that it illegally marketed Bextra... just like it illegally marketed Neurontin... just like it'll illegally market 'Stop Hitting Yourself.'® Stop Hitting Yourself.® Why are you hitting yourself?

So, let me get this straight: Pfizer is the one who'll lie to you, but Merck's the one that'll kill you? Got it.

The $2.3 billion is less than three weeks of Pfizer's sales, so, it's unlikely to stop their practice. In fact, a recently released document shows how drug companies use their marketing power to sell ineffective, but expensive, pills on an uninformed and vulnerable public. Well, duh... as all cheaters know. People Are Dumb.

Amy Schulman, Pfizer's general counsel summed it up best:
"The vast majority of our employees spend their lives dedicated to bringing truly important medications to patients and physicians in an appropriate manner."

What she left unsaid is that a small minority of their employees... don't. That small minority squeezes every last dollar out of our worthless lives, and that small minority is in charge.

Kudos, drug industry. You've cheated yourself quite rich.


Jeff Kreisler's first book, "Get Rich Cheating" (HarperCollins), is a Boston Globe bestseller and is available online or in most bookstores.
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