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Sep 2, 2009 2:05 PM by Associated Press

Pfizer to pay record $2.3 billion settlement

The world's largest drug maker will pay a record $2.3 billion civil and criminal penalty over unlawful prescription drug promotions. The Justice Department says the $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer Inc. includes the largest criminal fine in U.S. history, at $1.2 billion.

The overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules. The government says the company illegally promoted four prescription drugs, including the pain killer Bextra, as treatments for medical conditions different from those the drugs had been approved for by federal regulators.

Under terms of the settlement, Pfizer must pay $1 billion to compensate Medicaid, Medicare, and other federal health care programs. Some of that money will be shared among the states. A Pfizer subsidiary has entered an agreement to plead guilty to one count of felony misbranding.

Pfizer says it regrets "certain actions taken in the past" but is proud of steps it has taken to strengthen internal controls.

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