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who paid the largest criminal fine in history

    Pfizer in the USA paid $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties, the largest ever in pharmaceutical history. TEPCO may be paying more for its failure to meet safety requirements at Japan’s nuclear power plant. TEPCO has already been fined millions across the ocean. TEPCO has been the subject of numerous individual and class action lawsuits. The figure is expected to continue rising.

    In July 2022, a Tokyo court convicted 4 TEPCO executives and ordered them to pay $13 trillion (90 Billion USD) to the shareholders.

    Tip: If a corporation has caused you financial, physical, or other harm, Here is how to file an action against the company in civil or class court.

    How FDA approval works to protect pharmaceutical companies

    The FDA approves pharmaceuticals used for specific purposes according to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, enacted in 1938. After the FDA approves a product for a specific use, a company must limit its marketing to that FDA-approved use. FDA considers those uses “off label” as “misbranded.”

    GlaxoSmithKline’s $3 billion settlement was the largest ever recorded.

    GlaxoSmithKline was charged with promoting Paxil for patients under 18 years of age, despite not having FDA approval.

    GSK was also criticized for promoting Wellbutrin in weight loss and treatment of sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) despite the FDA only approving it for Major Depressive Disorder.

    Companies pay the highest amount of criminal fines.

    Tepco is paying the highest criminal fine to any company for its mistakes in Fukushima’s nuclear disaster.

    However, many other companies, such as BP or Bank of America, have had to spend billions of dollars on damages.

    What was Pfizer’s criminal fine? And why did it have to pay so high?

    Pfizer was fined PS1.7 billion ($2.3bn) in criminal court for healthcare fraud. This fine is still a record.

    US regulators ordered Pfizer to pay the fine after finding that it had committed fraud by misrepresenting Bextra, a now-withdrawn painkiller.

    The company pleaded guilty to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advertising the medication as being ‘off-label.’

    Pfizer pulled Bextra out of the market in 2005. However, it had promoted the drug for uses and dosages that FDA had rejected explicitly due to safety concerns.


    Pfizer was fined approximately 2 billion US dollars for criminal fraud in 2009. Although it was lower than the harsh fines placed on banks like Bank of America, Tepco, British Petroleum, and British Petroleum, the Pfizer fine remains the highest criminal and healthcare fine.

    US regulators ordered Pfizer to pay the fine after discovering that the corporation had engaged in fraud by misguiding a withdrawn medication known as “Bextra.”

    The company was found guilty of advertising the drugs for ‘off-label” purposes that weren’t approved and not cleared by the US Food & Drug Administration.

    Pfizer pulled out of the 2005 release of Bextra on the market but promoted the drug in dosages rejected by the Food & Drug Authority because of safety concerns.

    British Petroleum – $64bn

    In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill caused a vast oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s thought to have traveled approximately 60,000 km and flowed into the ocean for four months, just off the Texas coast.

    It was met with overwhelming support to save beaches, wetlands, and estuaries.

    Not only were there adverse effects from the clean-up, but also massive damage to the fishing and tourism industry. This was the worst industrial environmental disaster in US History.

    BP, a major oil company, settled with the US Department of Justice for PS15 billion. The total compensation was reportedly more than $64bn.

    In February 2022, BP saw the lightbulb moment after Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, the UK government has been urging it to move quickly. Helge Lud, BP’s chairman, stated that this military action “represents a fundamental change.” Since 2013, BP has held shares in the Russian corporation. According to Reuters, it could cost anywhere from $14 billion to $22.5 billion.


    TEPCO, Tokyo’s utility corporation, was subject to various legal claims. They were brought against Tokyo-based TEPCO after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in 2011. These lawsuits were inspired by claims that the energy powerhouse was insufficiently prepared for the tsunami.

    TEPCO was required to pay $10m in compensation and $1m for each family who lives within 30km of the power plant. Several ongoing cases brought in by cleanup workers and citizens who were affected, some of whom developed cancer, are also considered. Their fine is one of the most severe criminal fines in history.

    The cost could rise to USD 143 trillion, according to estimates. The four executives responsible for the severe damage were also identified in July 2022. They were given damages orders of around USD 90 Billion (13 trillion yen).

    Japanese parliament claims the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was deliberately created. Why is that? TEPCO did NOT follow the safety protocols required to prepare for a Tsunami. Therefore, victims of the tsunami were entitled to sue TEPCO civilly.


    GlaxoSmithKline’s $3 billion settlement with the Justice Department for Healthcare Fraud is the largest in US history. The Justice Department conducted ten years-long investigations into the company. The company was accused of improper marketing and Medicaid fraud, whereby certain subsidized medications were undercharged. GlaxoSmithKline’s pricing of certain drugs was also under investigation by the Justice Department. The fines could have been avoided had the company not misreported certain drugs’ prices.

    Glaxo, the pharmaceutical giant, agreed to pay the most significant criminal fine ever to settle the lawsuits. The pharmaceutical giant broke the FDA regulations on marketing certain medications. The company failed to disclose Avandia’s cost and the number of people who had heart problems after taking it. GSK paid kickbacks as well to doctors for prescribing the drug. Kickbacks included luxurious trips, concert tickets, paid speaking engagements, and lavish trips.

    How Large Was Pfizer’s Criminal Fine? And Why Did It Have To Pay?

    Pfizer received $2.3 billion ($ 1.7 billion) in criminal sanctions in 2009. Although it was smaller than penalties imposed by Tepco, BP, or Bank of America, it nevertheless set a new mark as the highest criminal and healthcare fraud settlement.

    US regulators required Pfizer’s payment after discovering that the company had misled patients about the painkiller Bextra.

    The company admitted selling the drug “off-label,” which US Food and Drug Administration did not allow.

    Pfizer removed Bextra from the marketplace in 2005, despite being advertised for applications and dosages rejected by the FDA because of safety concerns.

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