Pfizer takes its turn in bribery probe, paying $60M

It is Pfizer's turn to make amends for its misdeeds as part of the extensive federal investigation into foreign bribery by pharma companies to sell more drugs overseas. Just yesterday, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) acknowledged it had been caught up in the probe by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Pfizer ($PFE) and two of its units reached separate agreements and will pay a total of $60.2 million to settle charges that they paid doctors in the Middle East and Eastern Europe to use its products, Bloomberg reports. Pfizer executives turned the company in when it discovered evidence of "improper payments" in its overseas operations, The Wall Street Journal says.

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has already agreed to pay $70 million to wrap up allegations that it bribed doctors in Greece, Poland and Romania. Other companies that have disclosed they are caught up in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act crackdown include GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Baxter ($BAX), Eli Lilly ($LLY), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Merck ($MRK). Reuters says at least 8 of the 10 biggest drugmakers have been contacted by government investigators.

Teva disclosed the SEC issued a subpoena to the Israeli company, asking for documents from its operations in Latin America. It said it is conducting its own investigation as well. 

- here's the Bloomberg story
- check out the WSJ article
- see the WSJ piece on Teva
- get more from Reuters