Big Pharma behaving badly: A timeline of settlements

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Sometimes pharma companies bend the rules. And increasingly, they're getting caught. After Novartis' recent $422.5 million settlement with the U.S. Attorney's office and reader requests, we looked back at other Department of Justice and government fines levied against Big Pharma for improper marketing and other infractions. Those fines range from a relatively light slap on the wrists to multi-billion dollar charges in addition to criminal penalties. 

Eleven companies have paid a total of over $6 billion to the government in 22 months. The biggest offender? Eli Lilly, with three appearances and over $1.4 billion in fines, all for Zyprexa. But those three settlements pale in comparison to Pfizer's massive $2.3 billion charge for mis-marketing a host of drugs, including Bextra, Geodon, Lyrica and Zyvox.

Novartis
With: U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
When: Sept. 30, 2010
Scoop: Novartis agreed to a $422.5 million settlement with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for its off-label promotion of Trileptal and other allegations against Diovan, Exforge, Sandostatin, Tekturna and Zelnorm.

Forest Labs
With: Dept. of Justice
When: Sept. 15, 2010
Scoop: After marketing Levothroid, an unapproved thyroid drug, Forest Labs received its penalty, to the tune of $313 million. The settlement also covered Forest's off-label use of Celexa for children's use.

Allergan
With: Dept. of Justice
When: Sept. 1, 2010
Scoop: Allergan's $600 million DoJ settlement was broken into two parts: $375 million in fines and $225 milion in civil penalties, all of which stemmed from its off-label use of Botox for headaches, pain management and cerebral palsy.

Elan
With: U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts
When: July 15, 2010
Scoop: The Irish drugmaker received its $203.5 million fine for its marketing tactics of Zonegran, an epilepsy drug. Also, the company's U.S. branch pled guilty to a misdemeanor and the company will enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the HHS Inspector General.

Johnson & Johnson
With: Department of Justice
When: April 29, 2010
Scoop: Though J&J's more infamous woes stem from its phantom recalls, two of the troubled drugmaker's subsidiaries received a $81 million penalty for off-label promotions of Topamax, an epilepsy drug.

AstraZeneca
With: U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia
When: April 27, 2010
Scoop: In the same week as the J&J settlement, AstraZeneca was hit with a $520 million penalty for its antipsychotic, Seroquel. The company misled doctors and patients about the drug's safety.

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