Pfizer pays $60M to settle bribery charges

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Pfizer has agreed to pay the federal government $60s million to settle allegations that its employees bribed doctors and other foreign officials in Europe and Asia to win business and boost sales.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says Pfizer’s subsidiaries overseas made illegal payments to health care officials in China, Italy, Russia, Croatia and other Eastern European countries. They tried to conceal the bribes by recording them as legitimate business expenses for travel, entertainment and marketing purposes, the agency says.

The settlement includes alleged violations by Wyeth, which Pfizer acquired in 2009.

New York-based Pfizer first disclosed the misconduct to SEC and Justice Department officials in October 2004, and cooperated with the government’s investigation. Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical company by sales, neither admitted nor denied the allegations.