'Viagra Girl' Seeks To Hold Onto $400,000 Of Extra Severance

Janet Rodriguez Viagra severanceViagra is known to give a pick-me-up, but this one might outlast them all.

Janet Rodriguez had been an employee in the sales division at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the maker of Viagra among other drugs, for 16 years before she was let go amid a round of layoffs in 2009. The 54-year old received her formal severance package in March of the following year, and was surprised to see it marked up roughly 400 percent from the amount she thought she was due.

Indeed, as the New York Post first reported, the "Viagra Girl," as the tabloid called her, was issued a check for $517,140.24. Yet according to Pfizer's severance payout protocol, says the Daily Mail, Rodriguez should only have been given three weeks pay for each year worked, in addition to 13 weeks' severance, That formula would have led to a payout of $105,851.75.

Rodriguez kept quiet about the overpayment, and instead cashed the check. Finally, 3½ months after it issued the wrong check, Pfizer reached out to Rodriguez, asking for return of the excess funds. When Rodriguez didn't respond, Pfizer sent three more letters, and even contracted a collection agency. With no response from Rodriguez, Pfizer decided to file suit this past week in Manhattan Supreme Court, a move that Rodriguez's legal representation was less than impressed with.

"By virtue of the fact that they bring this claim so late in the game, so long after their alleged mistake, [it] is just a cheap bullying tactic that we expect the court to see right through," her lawyer, Saul Zabell, told the Post.

While the payout for Rodriguez could be life-changing, for Viagra, it's hard to argue that the dollar amount represents a major financial loss. Having finished the second quarter with profits of $17 billion, the pharmaceutical giant has just announced that it outdid itself in the third. Total revenue jumped to $17.2 billion, which represents a 7.4 percent jump from last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The high profits have led to a rise in the company stock price of 10 percent over the year, with that figure currently standing at $19.72 a share. Its good fortune can be chalked up in part to a boom in popularity for its cholesterol drug Lipitor. Sales from Lipitor generate roughly 15 percent of Pfizer's total sales.

But challenges lay ahead. Pfizer will be losing market exclusivity as generic and cheaper cholesterol drugs prepare to enter the market.



Next: More Employers Hike Health Care Costs For Smokers And Obese



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Jay S

"Having finished the second quarter with profits of $17 billion"

This is something that should be immediately obvious to a business report as being wrong.

November 19 2011 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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