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World's Biggest Drug Company Pays Record Fine


The world's largest drug company has agreed to pay $2.3 billion in fines and penalties for marketing some drugs improperly.

The U.S. Justice Department says the fine is the largest ever levied in a health care fraud case.

The case involves several drugs, including "Bextra." It was approved for arthritis, but the company improperly tried to get doctors to use it for other kinds of pain. Bextra was taken off the market because of safety concerns.

It is legal for physicians to prescribe drugs for uses that have not been officially approved, but it is not legal for a drug company to push doctors to write such prescriptions. It also violates rules to pay kickbacks to encourage doctors to choose a particular drug.

Officials say money from the fines will go to various health and medical programs run by the government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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