Foreign subsidiaries of Pfizer spent years bribing foreign doctors and healthcare officials to expand sales of the company’s pharmaceuticals, according to a $60 million settlement reached with the U.S. government.
The deal, brokered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice, resolves charges of illegal activities that took place in about a dozen countries, including China, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
“Pfizer subsidiaries in several countries had bribery so entwined in their sales culture that they offered points and bonus programs to improperly reward foreign officials who proved to be their best customers,” Kara Brockmeyer, an SEC official, said in a news release. “These charges illustrate the pitfalls that exist for companies that fail to appropriately monitor potential risks in their global operations.”
In China, a subsidiary awarded doctors with points for every Pfizer prescription they wrote, allowing them to redeem the points for medical books, cell phones, and other gifts. In some cases, Pfizer’s China operation bribed physicians with free trips abroad.
Pfizer officials in the U.S. reportedly learned of the bribes in 2004 and began in internal investigation that kept federal regulators in the loop on what they discovered. The company insisted its executives knew nothing about the schemes before then.
- Pfizer Admits Bribery in Eight Countries (corpwatch.org)
So a bomb exploded on a bus in Bulgaria killing a certain number of people who were apparently visitors from Israel. About 20 minutes later, Israeli PM Netanyahu is accusing Iran of carrying out the bombing. Speculation is rife. Pundits feel a need to opine, even though they didn’t know any facts about the incident either. A few more hours pass, and Trita Parsi writes that it is plausible that Iran was indeed behind the bombing, as a sort of retaliation against Israel for the murders of Iranian nuclear scientists. I guess “plausible” is all that things need be in order to implicate Iran.)
Trita does make an interesting point though:
US officials have privately expressed concern that one of the purposes of Israeli attacks in Iran has been to generate an Iranian response that could serve as a casus belli for Israel. That way, Israel could target Iran’s nuclear facilities without paying the heavy political cost of starting a preventive war.
This of course is the “provocation-followed-by-retaliation” technique that Moshe Dayan told Moshe Sharret would be used by Israel to justify its aggression, years ago.
I pointed out to Trita that Israel and the US are both reported to be behind the Jundollah terrorists, who have murdered a number of Iranians in terrorist attacks launched from Pakistan. So if we proceed on the “retaliation” theory, Iran certainly has lots to retaliate for.
However, I don’t buy the retaliation theory either. What would Iran have to gain from hitting back like this? What would “retaliation” get Iran? The cost to Iran of being actually implicated in such an event would far outweigh any benefit of retaliation (and I can’t think of any tangible benefit from retaliation either.) And why assume that when Israelis are blown up, only Iran can be the guilty party? Its not as if Israel has a dearth of opponents.
So what benefit would accrue to Iran by blowing up some random busload of people somewhere?