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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.
Pfizer Inc. is the world's largest pharmaceuticals corporation that manufactures brand names Viagra, Celebrex, Norvasc, and Lipitor. It also manufactures animal care products such as Revolution, an anti-parasitic. In 2009, Pfizer acquired its rival Wyeth for $68 billion. Wyeth's over-the-counter brands included Advil, Centrum, Robitussin, and ChapStick. The majority of its sales are conducted through the wholesale companies McKesson and Cardinal Health. See also a complete listing of the company's prescription drugs here.
- 1 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 2 Overview and History
- 3 Political Influence
- 4 Corporate Policies
- 5 Social Responsibility Initiatives
- 6 Public Relations
- 7 Drug Controversies
- 8 International
- 9 Clinical Trials and Drug Testing Issues
- 10 Personnel
- 11 Contact
- 12 Articles and Resources
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
Pfizer is a corporate member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of March 2015. Its legislative affairs director, Josh Brown, sits on its corporate "Private Enterprise Board." Michael Hubert, Vice President for "Leadership Communications," was Pfizer's representative on ALEC's corporate board as of 2011.
A Pfizer spokesperson said of the company's participation in ALEC in 2012, "We don't agree with every ALEC position, but we participate in ALEC's healthcare forums because state legislators that are the members in ALEC, they make decisions that impact our business and the country's business every day."
A list of ALEC corporations can be found here.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
In 2014, a group of Pfizer shareholders requested that the Board of Directors review its participation in third-party organizations, citing ALEC as a "significant reputational and business risk" and stating that some of ALEC's positions run counter to Pfizer's own policies and values. The Board of Directors recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution, arguing that "it is fundamental to our business that we engage on public policy issues" and that because of Pfizer's healthcare knowledge, "we regularly collaborate with policy makers to help create and maintain an innovative environment where we can cultivate new medicines, bring them to market and ensure that patient health and safety remain a priority."
Overview and History
See History of Pfizer.
The Center for Responsive Politics writes that "Pfizer is one of the biggest players in what is widely considered the most influential industry in Washington: pharmaceutical manufacturers."
Pfizer is a member of several major trade groups and business lobbying groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). CEO Ian Read serves on the board of PhRMA.
Pfizer is "aggressive" in its lobbying efforts, according to Open Secrets. In 2014, Pfizer reported spending $9,493,000 on lobbying at the federal level, of which $2,830,000 was contracted to 14 different outside lobbying firms. Its top issues were in the categories Health Issues, Taxes, Medicare & Medicaid, Trade, and Copyright, Patent & Trademark.
Since 2006, Pfizer's federal lobbying spending has generally ranged from between $9 million and $14 million per year, but spiked to $25.8 million in 2009. Its federal lobbying from 2006 to 2014 totaled $89.89 million.
The Center for Responsive Politics reported in 2002:
- "Over the last two years, Pfizer has been waging a legal battle to extend its patent on the epilepsy drug, Neurontin, and in its merger with Pharmacia, the company will gain access to dozens of new drugs whose patents expire in coming years. Even before its announced merger, Pfizer was among the most aggressive in the industry when it comes to fending off legislation that would seemingly make patent laws more lax, claiming that such legislation would curb the industry's research and development into drugs that could cure rare diseases.
- "To make that argument, Pfizer has retained some of Washington's best known lobbyists, including former Reps. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) and Norman Lent (R-N.Y.) and former Sen. Dennis DeConcini (R-Ariz.). The company also retains Scott Hatch, son of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who authored the drug patent law that remains in effect today. Since 1997, Pfizer has reported nearly $20 million in lobbying expenditures, according to the Secretary of the Senate. (Pharmacia spent $13.4 million during the same period.)"
Avoiding Billions in Federal Taxes
Pfizer received at least $52,556,694 in federal subsidies from 1992 to early 2015, mostly in the form of federal grants.
In addition, according to Good Jobs First:
- "Pfizer is one of the numerous pharmaceutical companies that for many years took advantage of a provision in the Internal Revenue Code (Section 936) that gave special tax credits for their operations in Puerto Rico and was widely criticized as a form of corporate welfare. A 1992 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that Pfizer was enjoying $156,400 in tax savings for each of its 500 employees on the island. The amount was said to be 636 percent of the company’s compensation costs."
During the 1990s, when there was a push to eliminate the tax provision, lobbyists succeeded in getting it slowly phased out instead, and many companies re-registered as foreign entities in Puerto Rico "to escape taxes entirely as long as they did not send the profits back to the mainland United States." Then in 2005, when Congress enacted a repatriation tax holiday, Pfizer "repatriated more foreign profits than any other company -- $37 billion -- and enjoyed an $11 billion tax break while cutting rather than increasing its U.S. workforce."
State and Local Subsidies
Pfizer and its affiliated companies received at least $268,122,031 in state and local subsidies from 1992 to early 2015, according to Good Jobs First's subsidy tracker. The majority of these were received since 2007. Some of the largest deals include:
- $84.2 million in Michigan in 2001, including a $25.8 million tax credit over 20 years, $10.7 million in state property tax abatements over 12 years, and $47.7 million in local property tax abatements over 12 years;
- $60 million in Connecticut in 1998, including $20 million in tax exemptions, $30 million in property tax abatements, and a transfer of land worth $6.2 million to support 1,000 new jobs. "In 2011 Pfizer eliminated many of the jobs at the facility and transferred them to Cambridge, Massachusetts";
- $18.1 million in North Carolina in 2008, tax credit/rebate; and
- $12.1 million in New Jersey in 1998, grant/low-cost loan.
2014 Federal Contributions
In 2014, Pfizer and its employees reported $2,205,242 in contributions to federal political candidates, putting it in the top 0.1 percent of the organizations profiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (117 out of 16,793). Of this total, 56 percent to Republicans and 43 percent went to Democrats.
Forty members of Congress owned shares in Pfizer in 2014.
Pfizer's political action committee, Pfizer Inc. PAC, spent $2,626,633 in 2014. Of direct contributions to candidates, 52 percent to Republicans and 48 percent went to Democrats.
Top PAC Contributions to U.S. House Candidates:
- Eric Cantor (R-VA): $14,250
- Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): $12,500
- John Barrow (D-GA): $10,000
- Joe Courtney (D-CT): $10,000
- Joseph Crowley (D-NY): $10,000
- Kurt Schrader (D-OR): $10,000
- Fred Upton (R-MI): $10,000
- Greg Walden (R-OR): $10,000
- Rush Holt (D-NJ): $9,000
- Ann L. Wagner (R-MO): $9,000
Top PAC Contributions to U.S. Senate Candidates:
- Cory Booker (D-NJ): $17,500
- Mark Udall (D-CO): $11,000
- John A. Barrasso (R-WY): $10,000
- Mike Rounds (R-SD): $10,000
- John Cornyn (R-TX): $9,500
- Thad Cochran (R-MS): $9,000
- Mark Pryor (D-AR): $9,000
Open Secrets reports that in 2010, Pfizer gave $1,581,836 to candidates. $826,045 was given to federal Democratic candidates and $738,791 to federal Republican candidates.
Pfizer was among several companies giving record political contributions four years after a law was passed attempting to reduce the impact of corporate money in U.S. politics. According to Bloomberg:
- "The companies are working around the law, which banned unlimited contributions to parties, by giving more money through their political action committees than ever before in the first year of an election cycle, and writing checks to loosely regulated independent groups, financial disclosures show." 
Pfizer and Health Care Reform
In January of 2006, Pfizer, through its public affairs agency Spectrum Science, hoped to, "open dialogue about, and ultimately reform, the nation's health care system." Spectrum started organizing the "Ceasefire on Health Care" town meetings for Pfizer in June 2005. The idea, originated from former U.S. Senator John Breaux. According to Spectrum's director of public affairs, Claire Barnard:
- "The thrust of the campaign ... is to make incremental changes. I think the public is really yearning for this. I think people are tired of turning on the TV and seeing all the name calling."
The "Ceasefire on Health Care" town meetings are funded by Pfizer and American University. They have featured Senator Hillary Clinton and former Congressman Newt Gingrich. C-Span has covered the events, which have been held at the Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation and National Press Club. 
Shareholders may attend and vote in annual meetings and add items to the agenda. They may also nominate candidates for board member elections. There are no exceptions to the one share, one vote principle. Pfizer has initiated a series of reforms to improve shareholder control, including annual elections for all directors.
Pfizer has two stakeholder specific engagement policies: Pfizer’s Global Policy on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals and Pfizer Principles for Working in Partnership with Patient Advocacy Groups. Both identify key principles that should underpin engagement with health care professionals and Patient advocacy groups, respectively.
Both make a commitment to being open about how shareholders affect decisions, but they do not identify when shareholders may participate in company decisions. Furthermore, there is no assurance that Pfizer will change policy as a result of stakeholder wishes (or even provide explanations). The two policies are overseen by a number of senior executives. The Global Policy on Interaction with Healthcare Professionals is overseen by multiple senior executives. It covers global marketing, research and development; and global business conduct. The Vice President of Global Alliance Development and the Senior VP of Philanthropy and Stakeholder Advocacy, oversee Pfizer’s Principles of Working in Partnerships with Patient Advocacy Groups. Each policy is disseminated through multiple mediums and translated into at least 20 languages. Pfizer does not provide training for staff on stakeholder engagement issues. Also, Pfizer has not institutionalized external stakeholder engagement in corporate decision-making. The company created a Worldwide Public Affairs and Policy department dedicated to philanthropy and shareholder advocacy, which solicits feedback from stakeholders. However, shareholders do not participate directly in any committee or group.
Ranking for LGBT Rights
Pfizer's Corporate Equality Index Rating from Human Rights Watch, an LGBT rights advocacy organization, was 100 in 2015.
Social Responsibility Initiatives
In 2001, Pfizer announced that it would provide an unlimited free supply of Diflucan, a drug that combats fungal infections associated with AIDS, to 50 of the world’s poorest countries. The New York Times reported that Pfizer had "been under pressure for several years from the makers of generic copies of Diflucan," and that some critics said the free drugs would "boost the image of the company" as it aimed to keep its market share. Previously, Pfizer had conducted a successful pilot program in South Africa. The patent on Diflucan expired in 2004.
In the wake of a CEO change in 2006, Pfizer changed the name of its corporate affairs practice to public affairs, in order to "better reflect the increasing importance of influencing public policy and opinion to the company's success." The change was described as, "a larger reorganization of Pfizer's management structure," that included Jeff Kindler's promotion from head of corporate affairs to CEO:
- "Rich Bagger will head Pfizer's new worldwide public affairs and policy division, which previously had been called the corporate affairs division." In that role, Bagger will oversee "public policy development, government relations, communications, media, philanthropy, and stakeholder advocacy." 
According to a memo from the new CEO to employees, the changes would help Pfizer make decisions more quickly, an important goal, as "patients and their families are using newly available information to take more control over their health care decisions." 
Americans for Medical Progress
Pfizer personnel sit on the board of AMP. See also Americans for Medical Progress.
In September 2008, Pfizer resumed advertising for its cholesterol drug Lipitor. In February 2008, the drugmaker pulled its Lipitor ads, over charges they were misleading. The old ads featured artificial heart inventor Robert Jarvik, who appeared to be giving medical advice though he isn't a practicing physician. The new ads feature "John E.," a baby boomer and heart-attack survivor who "didn't take a cholesterol-fighting drug before his heart attack ... despite a history of high cholesterol." A Pfizer marketing executive said, "When we did testing with consumers ... John really resonated with them." Pfizer is eager to maximize sales before its patent on Lipitor ends in 2011. 
In November 2004 Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, part of the WPP Group; took over accounts for Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra pain medications. In December of 2004, a report linked high doses of Celebrex (a member of the class of drugs referred to as Cox-2 inhibitors) to increased risk of heart attacks. The co-managing director of the WPP Group's health and medical practice, Sherry Pudloski, told O'Dwyer's PR Daily that they still held the account, but would not elaborate on what they did for the company. 
Off-Label Promotional Practices (Neurontin)
Access to pharmaceutical industry documents in 2006 revealed marketing strategies used to promote Neurontin for off-label use. In 1993, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved gabapentin (Neurontin®, Pfizer) only for treatment of seizures. Warner-Lambert, which merged with Pfizer in 2000, used activities not usually associated with sales promotion. This included continuing medical education and research, sponsored articles about the drug for medical literature and alleged suppression of unfavorable study results, to promote gabapentin. Within 5 years, the drug was being widely used for the off-label treatment of pain and psychiatric conditions. In 2004, Warner-Lambert admitted to violating FDA regulations by promoting the drug for pain, psychiatric conditions, migraines and other unapproved uses. The company paid $430 million to resolve criminal and civil health care liability charges.
Pfizer has been involved in controversies over the medicine Diflucan (generic name fluconazole). In 1998, a campaign by Thai public health groups led to the elimination of the Pfizer monopoly on selling fluconazole in Thailand. Subsequently, the price decreased from 200 baht to 6.5 baht in nine months. Faced with pressure for compulsory licenses to the Pfizer patent on this drug, the company later established a program for limited access to the medicine in Africa.
Drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS are various classes of toxic chemotherapies known as "antivirals" or "antiretrovirals". AIDS drugs manufactured by Pfizer include Viracept (protease inhibitor), Maraviroc and Maraviroc Rescriptor (entry inhibitors). See also AIDS industry.
According to company information, in the U.S., 46% of all new HIV/AIDS cases occur in the South. From 2003 to 2006, the Pfizer Foundation funded 23 innovative HIV/AIDS prevention programs and strengthened the capacity of community-based organizations to reach and serve their communities. Since 2003, the company has committed a $3 million dollar grant supporting a southern HIV/AIDS prevention (by way of Pfizer pharmaceuticals). However, according to he European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), collection of activists from 31 European countries:
- "The design of the trial for Pfizer's CCR5 inhibitor Maraviroc (previously known as UK-427,857) is putting people with HIV infection at unnecessary risk of developing AIDS."
On June 20, 2007 Maraviroc was received a letter of approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory board. The letter was a product of expedited review of the novel HIV compound.
Premarin & PMU Ranches
Premarin was approved by the USDA in 1942 for manufacture by Wyeth (now Pfizer). Premarin, a drug derived from pregnant mares’ urine (PMU), is prescribed for "symptoms of menopause". The urine is collected from mares confined in barns on over 70 "PMU ranches" in the United States and Canada. Despite the availability of humane and safer alternatives, Premarin is among the most widely prescribed and profitable drugs in America. The industry is "self-regulated through manufacturer Pfizer’s Code of Practice". Mares in Premarin production commonly suffer from abrasions, leg swelling, excessive boredom, stress, and early death. Strapped to urine collection bags six months out of the year; they are tied to stalls too narrow to turn around or lie down in and are denied free access to water. There is no minimum code of practice for exercise or even that they be exercised at all.
Studies of Premarin Health Risks
Premarin has been classified as a "dangerous drug" and the number one most likely to cause disability or other serious outcome. Premarin increases risks of uterine cancer, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer and blood clots.
See also Premarin.
Nigeria: Alleged Antibiotics Testing on Children without Parental Consent
In May 2006, The Washington Post published a Nigerian government report that had remained unreleased for five years. In this report, a panel of Nigerian medical experts found that Pfizer violated international law, stemming from the company's alleged testing of an unapproved, oral form of Trovafloxacin on children with meningitis in Nigeria without receiving consent from their parents.
According to Pfizer, they conducted the trial with full knowledge of the Nigerian government. These allegations have been the subject of litigation in both America and Nigeria. On June 5, 2007 the Nigerian government filed a civil lawsuit for $7 billion in damages against Pfizer, in relation to the experimental meningitis treatment given to children. Two hundred children received Trovan in Kano, Nigeria, in 1996, according to Pfizer. The Nigerian and Kano state governments alleged that the antibiotic was administered without parental consent and that it disabled or killed some children.
In July 2007, the Nigerian government filed criminal charges against Pfizer over the trials. In turn, Pfizer hired investigators to unearth embarrassing information about Nigeria's attorney general Michael Aondoakaa, in hopes that the charges would be dropped.
Philippines: Pfizer Sues Government Over Importing Generics
In March of 2006, Pfizer sued the Philippine government and government health officials, to prevent Philippine drug regulators from allowing the importation of less expensive versions of a Pfizer heart disease drug.
In 2001, Pfizer requested the U.S. government pressure the Brazilian government against issuing compulsory licenses for the patents on the AIDS drug nelfinavir.
In 1998, the Thai government acquiesced to requests by public health groups and eliminated Pfizer’s monopoly on fluconazole, a leading AIDS drug, reducing the price of the drug from 200 baht to 6.5 baht within a year.
Clinical Trials and Drug Testing Issues
Drug Trials and Off-Label Use of Antipsychotics on Foster Children
According to Time, children in foster care are disproportionately likely to be prescribed antipsychotic medication, including drugs that have not been approved for use in children. Manufacturers of these drugs, including Pfizer as well as Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, and others, have been fined by the FDA “for illegal marketing practices—in part, for marketing the drugs for unapproved use in children,” and Pfizer paid $301 million to settle a case related to charges of illegally marketing its antipsychotic, Geodon. According to the San Antonio Current,, an investigation by the Texas Comptroller’s office found that in 2004, some 3,330 prescriptions for Pfizer’s anti-psychotic Geodon had been written for children in foster care; the drug had not been approved by the FDA for use in children. Based on court records it examined, the San Antonio Current reported that:
- "Pfizer sought to seed the medical literature with studies praising off-label use of Geodon, some of which the federal government described as little more than a marketing gimmick in their lawsuit"
- In a practice the federal lawsuit called “information laundering,” the company had a contract with “Dr. Neil Kaye, a prominent psychiatrist with Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, to promote off-label prescribing of Geodon in medical journals, at speaking gigs, and in continuing medical education seminars for psychiatrists,” paying him “as much as $4,000 a day on top of expenses, and even flew him around the country in his own private helicopter.”
- “In 2009, Pfizer again sought approval to market Geodon for use in children; the FDA rejected the application late that year. Further, the FDA issued a report after looking into Pfizer’s data on clinical trials in kids and adolescents, detailing some 24 cases where children experienced serious complications, including cardiac arrhythmia. While Pfizer told the FDA cardiac concerns were no different in children than in adults, the FDA did its own analysis that showed otherwise. The FDA in 2010 scolded three doctors who participated in Geodon’s children trials, saying they improperly dosed patients, and in a few instances overdosed patients.”
See also Foster child drug trials.
Pfizer does animal testing.
Facility Information, Progress Reports & USDA-APHIS Reports
For links to copies of a facility's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Stop Animal Experimentation NOW!: Facility Reports and Information. This site contains listings for all 50 states, links to biomedical research facilities in that state and PDF copies of government documents where facilities must report their animal usage. (Search: Pfizer, Inc., New York, New York; Wyeth, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wyeth Vaccines, Marietta, PA; Fort Dodge Laboratories, Fort Dodge, Iowa.)
This facility performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered. For links to copies of this facility's USDA-APHIS reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports & Information: Fort Dodge Animal Health, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.
This facility performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered. For copies of this facility's USDA-APHIS reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports & Information, Pfizer, Inc., White Hall, IL. 
USDA AWA Reports
As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.
Pfizer contracts tests out to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Huntingdon Life Sciences is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in all of Europe. Firms hire HLS to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins.HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations. See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Read first joined Pfizer in 1978. He also serves as a Director on the boards of Kimberly-Clark, the Partnership for New York City, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), where he also serves as Pfizer's representative on the International Section Executive Committee.
- Ian C. Read, CEO and Chairman of the Board. Read also serves on the board of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. (Total compensation: $18,947,747)
- Albert Bourla, Group President, Vaccines, Oncology, and Consumer Healthcare
- Frank A. D’Amelio, Executive Vice President, Business Operations; Chief Financial Officer (Total compensation: $7,124,330)
- Mikael Dolsten, President, Worldwide Research and Development (Total compensation: $6,453,404)
- Geno J. Germano, Group President, Global Innovation Pharma Business (Total compensation: $5,254,047)
- Charles (Chuck) H. Hill, III, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources
- Rady A. Johnson, Executive Vice President, Chief Compliance and Risk Officer
- Doug Lankler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
- Freda C. Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President
- Anthony J. Maddaluna, Executive Vice President
- Laurie J. Olson, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Portfolio and Commercial Operations
- Sally Susman, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Board of Directors
As of March 2015:
- Dennis A. Ausiello
- W. Don Cornwell
- Frances D. Fergusson
- Helen H. Hobbs
- Constance J. Horner, former guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, White House staff member under George W. Bush
- James M. Kilts
- George A. Lorch
- Santanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe Systems
- Suzanne Nora Johnson, retired Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs
- Ian C. Read, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer
- Stephen W. Sanger, Chairman of General Mills
- James C. Smith, President and CEO of Thomson Reuters
- Marc Tessier-Lavigne
235 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- AIDS industry
- American Cancer Society
- Animal testing
- Consensus Research Group
- Foster child drug trials
- Glover Park Group
- Humane Movement
- Human rights
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Primate Research Center System
- Pfizer Inc/stats, details
- Pfizer Australia Neuroscience Research Grants
- Pharmaceutical industry
- SANE Australia
- Spectrum Science Communications
- War on Animals
- War on Cancer
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