Multinational Monitor

OCT/NOV 2002
VOL 23 No. 10


Chartering a New Course: Revoking Corporations’ Right to Exist
by Charlie Cray

Global Rules for Corporate Accountability: The Proposal to Establish a Corporate Accountability Convention
by Matt Phillips

Divide and Conquer: Restraining Vertical Integration and Cross-Industry Ownership
by Robert Weissman


Trust-Busting: The State of Antitrust
an interview with
Robert Pitofsky

New Rules for the New Localism: Favoring Communities, Deterring Corporate Chains
an interview with
Stacy Mitchell

Challenging Corporate Personhood: Corporations, the U.S. Constitution and Democracy
an interview with
Jan Edwards

Blowing the Whistle on Corporate Wrongdoing
an interview with
Tom Devine


Behind the Lines

Corporate Mandates

The Front
Titanic Struggle in Kenya - Household’s Predatory Plea

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Names In the News

Pfizer Fraud

Pfizer Corporation and its subsidiaries, Warner-Lambert and Parke-Davis, will pay $49 million to settle allegations that the company ripped off Medicaid.

The government alleged in a False Claims Act suit that Pfizer fraudulently avoided paying the full rebates owed to the state and federal governments for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. Medicaid rules require each drug company participating in the program to agree to give the government the best price they offered to any commercial, for-profit customer and pay a quarterly rebate based, in part, upon that best price.

Parke-Davis Labs, then a subsidiary of Warner-Lambert, which was subsequently acquired by Pfizer in 2000, allegedly overstated the Lipitor best price in the first and second quarters of 1999 by concealing $250,000 of cash discounts that were given to a key managed care customer in Louisiana in exchange for favorable status on the managed care organization's drug formulary.

The alleged unreported discounts to the managed care organization allowed Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert to retain over $20 million owed to the Medicaid program.

David Foster, a former Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert employee in the company's Southeast Region, was the qui tam relator or whistle blower who filed the initial suit on behalf of the United States. Foster will receive 21.3 percent of the federal government's portion of the recovery or $5,945,958.90.

Clean Water Inaction

More than one in four -- 28 percent -- of major U.S. polluters violated legal limits for discharging chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects from 1999 to 2001, with average violations of more than eight times the legal limit (849 percent), according to a report released in October by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).

More than 81 percent of U.S. polluters exceeded their Clean Water Act permit limits at least once in the period -- the average violation was 10 times the legal limit.

"In Gross Violation: How Polluters are Flooding America's Waterways with Toxic Chemicals" was released on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

While many improvements in water quality have been made since the Act's passage, 40 percent of the nation's waterways are deemed unsafe for fishing and swimming.

As the Bush administration pursues proposals to cut the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) enforcement staff for 2003 and to weaken crucial Clean Water Act programs, the new report shows that for many toxic chemicals, polluters are violating legal pollution levels by large margins.

"Public records show that polluters regularly break the law -- for highly toxic chemicals and at levels many times higher than legally allowed," says U.S. PIRG Environmental Health Advocate Jeremiah Baumann. "It is unacceptable that with such a weak enforcement record, the Bush administration would propose cutting enforcement and weakening the law."

The U.S. PIRG report also found that on more on 1,562 occasions, major facilities reported discharging at least 10 times the legal limit for chemicals linked to serious health effects. In 363 instances, they reported exceeding the legal limit by more than 100 times.

CDC's Lead Heads

Members of a government advisory panel on lead poisoning have been replaced by individuals who are affiliated or openly sympathetic with the views of the lead industry, according to a report released in October by Representative Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts.

The Lead Advisory Committee at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is charged with assessing scientific data and recommending changes to CDC policy to prevent lead poisoning, including whether the blood lead level limits are adequate. The blood lead levels are then used to determine which children are at risk for adverse health effects, and how much remediation must be done to ensure that a lead contaminated site is safe.

The report, "Turning Lead Into Gold: How the Bush Administration is Poisoning the Lead Advisory Committee at the CDC," charges that the Bush Administration has stacked the advisory panel with lead industry friends and rejected more independent members.

For example, according to the report, the administration has nominated Dr. William Banner, an expert witness for the lead industry who believes that lead is harmful only at levels that are seven to 10 times as high as the current CDC blood lead levels. The administration has also recently nominated Dr. Joyce Tsuji, principal scientist for Exponent, a company whose corporate clients including ASARCO and King & Spalding, a D.C. law firm representing several large lead firms.

On the other hand, the administration has rejected the reappointment of Dr. Michael Weitzman, who has been on the panel since 1977 and is the author of many publications on lead poisoning, and the nomination of Dr. Bruce Lanphear. Both Weitzman and Lanphear are considered more independent voices on lead issues.

"Since a key issue for this advisory committee is whether low-dose exposure to lead will adversely affected childhood development, I am concerned that noted academic experts are being replaced by individuals who appear to have conflicts of interest that could prevent them from providing advice that will lead to the most protective health standards for our children," Markey says.

-- Russell Mokhiber


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