WASHINGTON -- People familiar with a record settlement to be announced Wednesday say Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, will pay a $2.3 billion civil penalty over unlawful prescription drug promotions.
The U.S. Justice Department plans a news conference later in the day with FBI, federal prosecutors, and Health and Human Services Department officials to announce the terms of the deal. The people discussed the announcement on condition of anonymity because the court filings in the case were still under seal.
In financial filings in January, the company indicated that it would pay $2.3 billion over allegations it had marketed the pain reliever Bextra and possibly other products for medical conditions different than their approved use.
Use of drugs for so-called "off-label" medical conditions is not uncommon, but drug manufacturers are prohibited from marketing drugs for uses that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules.
Justice Department officials declined to comment.
Pfizer spokesman Chris Loder confirmed Wednesday that the $2.3 billion charge to the company's earnings had been taken in the fourth quarter of 2008.
"No additional charge to the company's earnings will be recorded in connection with this settlement," he said.
Loder said he would have no further comment on the settlement until after the Justice Department news conference later Wednesday morning.
When Pfizer originally disclosed the settlement figure, it also announced plans to acquire rival Wyeth for $68 billion. That deal, which would bolster Pfizer's position as the world's top drugmaker by revenue, is expected to close before year's end.
Shares of Pfizer were up 9 cents at $16.47 in early trading Wednesday.
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