Biased Fact Checking from USA Today on Claims Against Pfizer

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Executive Summary

  • USA Today fact-checked a claim about corruption at Pfizer.
  • We see how balanced and honest this fact check is.


The following is an analysis of the USA Today fact check on claims of Pfizer bribing doctors and suppressing adverse trials.

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A viral social media post suggests that Americans shouldn’t trust Pfizer – one of the primary producers of coronavirus vaccines – because of a 2009 lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company.

The April 26 Instagram post claims, “Pfizer got sued for $2,300,000,000 in 2009 for ‘bribing doctors and suppressing adverse trial results.'”

The caption reads, “And you still trust them ?? With your babies ???”

The post appears to be referencing a $2.3 billion settlement by Pfizer in 2009, but it’s misleading about the scope of the allegations relating to the settlement.

Pfizer settled allegations of bribery, illegal marketing of painkillers
The post appears to reference a settlement involving Pfizer in which the company pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge relating to the marketing of four drugs. The company agreed to pay $2.3 billion as part of the settlement.

The Pharmacia & Upjohn Company – a subsidiary of Pfizer – agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding the painkiller Bextra “with the intent to defraud or mislead,” according to the Department of Justice.

Under the act, a company must specify the uses of its product in the FDA’s new drug application and not market a product in other ways after that point. The Department of Justice wrote in a press release that Pfizer “promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns.”

The company paid a criminal fine of $1.195 billion. Pfizer also forfeited an additional

The Justice Department also said in 2009 that Pfizer paid $1 billion to resolve allegations of civil wrongdoing under the False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted Bextra and three other drugs: the antipsychotic Geodon, the antibiotic Zyvox and the anti-epileptic drug Lyrica.

The company also resolved allegations that it paid kickbacks – an illegal payment in exchange for preferential treatment or compensation – to health care providers to encourage them to prescribe the drugs.

Pfizer denied the civil allegations, except acknowledging improper promotion of Zyvox, Reuters reported in 2009.

The company’s general counsel said then that it regretted “certain actions in the past,” but was proud of the action it had taken to strengthen its internal controls, Reuters also reported.

Pfizer did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

These are terrible activities. They are entirely disgusting violations of trust with patients, which Pfizer obviously could not care less about. However, notice that USA Today describes them as if they are no big deal.

At the end of the quote, the spokesman’s comment is boilerplate, which is what companies caught breaking the law usually do. It is doubtful Pfizer means anything that their spokesman said. And it is also likely that Pfizer is still doing these activities.

As for Pfizer not admitting wrongdoing — agreeing to the fine was admitting wrong doing. If Pfizer had been innocent, they would have taken the case to court, but the information would have come out even more. Not admitting wrongdoing is a face-saving gesture offered by the government. But everyone knows what it means.

Except for USA Today, everyone is gaslighting the reader by making it appear that not admitting wrong doing means something.

The quote continues…

But none of these allegations is related to suppressing evidence of adverse events, as the claim asserted, a key topic as some Americans continue to question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Yes, but it goes to a pattern of unethical behavior. Pfizer operates as a criminal organization constantly lying and engaging in corrupt practices, and USA Today is saying it is okay. It raises interesting questions about how USA Today comports itself and its journalistic standards. I will further address that this unethical behavior may seem acceptable to USA Today as they are corrupt and do not declare their financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

The comment about Pfizer goes to their credibility, and for anyone who analyzes the topic in detail, they do not have any. So yes, it makes little sense to listen to Pfizer. If a person were diagnosed as a lying sociopath and had a history of behaving like a sociopath, would you listen to that person on health matters? Well, in this case, that lying sociopath is Pfizer.

That is the point of the commenter, and it is quite valid.

USA Today is saying that a history of entirely unethical and dishonest behavior is not essential in determining Pfizer’s credibility. Pfizer should be allowed to lie and cheat and never be held accountable. And that you should trust your health to Pfizer.

The quote continues…

Separate lawsuit alleged suppression of adverse effects, study manipulation.”’

The adverse-events allegations surfaced in an earlier lawsuit.

Pfizer constantly does this. They did it in their studies that they submitted to the FDA to receive the EUA for their covid vaccine. Pfizer occasionally gets charged for doing this. However, they do it as an ordinary course of their clinical trials.