Articles Posted in Pharma

dangerous-waste-300x200One of the world’s largest drug manufacturing locations is becoming the center of a raging debate about the cost of good jobs versus safe drinking water. Hyderabad, India has become an economic center thanks to drug companies setting up shop. But alarming new reports say the monetary boost for the locals and big pharma has a hefty environmental price tag: pharmaceutical waste.

Pharmaceutical Waste Study

According to Technology Networks, drug companies in Hyderabad are dumping “untreated or inappropriately treated pharmaceutical waste into the environment.” There are several laws and regulations in place that detail how these drug manufacturers are supposed to treat waste, but a 2016 study highlighted that the companies were not following the guidelines.

opioid crisisNew Tactics By The Justice Department Mean More Doctors May be Prosecuted

A new group of federal law enforcement nabbed their first indictment of a doctor in the fight against the opioid crisis. Valley News reports, the nationwide effort of law enforcement officials gives them all new access to prescription drug databases, Medicaid and Medicare figures, coroners’ records, and other numbers compiled by the Justice Department.

The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is a combination of law enforcement officials in 12 regions across the country. All united by the goal of stopping fraudulent doctors faster than before. The new organization of data means they have access to which doctors are prescribing the most, how far patients will travel to see them, and whether any of those patients have died within 60 days of receiving one of their prescriptions.

Several Pharmhigh-prices-300x200aceutical Companies Started 2018 by Increasing Drug Prices

Big Pharma rang in the New Year by having customers ring up higher drug prices at the checkout counter.  According to Stat News, several big-name drug makers hiked prices up nearly 10%.

Allergan (AGN) upped the price of 18 medicines by 9.5 percent. This particular number was reached to keep the drug maker to its pledge of “no double-digit” price hikes. The pledge was made as part of social contract issued over growing anger at the price of medication. Allergan did release a statement noting the new prices stay within the range of their pledge. They are one of the few drug companies to actually make the pledge.

opioid fraudOn November 29, 2017 Charles J. Gartland, D.O., age 59 of Cochranville, PA was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of opioid diversion and health care fraud.

United States Attorney David J. Freed said the charges of the indictment were handed down based on the belief that Gartland headed up a plan to defraud two health care benefit programs, Wellspan Health of York, PA and Medicare, by writing 221 prescriptions written in the names of three of his family members between the dates of September 2014 and August 2017.  The prescriptions were for the opiates Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Morphine and other controlled substances. The majority of the prescriptions were written for Hydrocodone-Ibuprofen.

The indictment notes that the prescriptions were not written for treatment of the family members but rather for the personal use of Dr. Gartland. Because of this, the prescriptions were not written in the realm of professional medical practice and were not used for a medical reason.

addictionMost people are aware that there is a serious Opioid crisis in America. But how many people know that the company who makes OxyContin, the highly addictive painkiller, is owned by a single family who has reaped billions of dollars of profits?

To say that the Sackler family has an impressive roster of monuments to their wealth would be an understatement. The Sackler family has had entire museums, wings, labs, stairways, and courtyards erected in their name.

From buildings and monuments to philanthropy, the Sackler name is everywhere, but the family itself is hardly ever seen.  In 2015 Forbes magazine added the family to the list of America’s richest families.  The billionaire family is descended from Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, two psychiatrist brothers from Brooklyn. Consisting of about 20 members, Forbes cited their wealth at a low-ball of 14 billion dollars. The family never comments publicly on the source of all that wealth – and that’s not a surprise. Most of their wealth came from sales of the narcotic painkiller, OxyContin. Since 1966 when the drug began being sold by the American branch of the Sackler’s pharmaceutical empire, Purdue Pharma, more than 200,000 people have died from overdoses on OxyContin and other painkillers.

The DOJ’s Opioid Fraud Unit is Seeing Movement in The Courts

opioid fraudThe Department of Justice’s newly formed Opioid Fraud Unit is seeing a bit of movement in the court’s system.  According to the blog White-Collared from Lexology, the Opioid Fraud Unit got its first indictment of what it considers an opioid dealer in the form a Pennsylvania physician.

The Indictment

There is an important article in today’s Wall Street Journal overviewing the significant increases in prices of drugs by the pharmaceutical manufacturers–despite rising criticism by patients, doctors, politicians and healthcare payers. Some think they have priced themselves out. Others, cited in this article think the companies still have the power to continue to raise prices. See the Journal article here

Many of the price increases add thousands of dollars to drugs that are already over-priced and exceed ability to pay. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc raised the price of its drug Hetlioz which treats a sleep disorder in blind people. It went up 10% to $148,000 per year. That is 76% higher than it was when introduced n 2014. Pfizer has raised list prices an average of 10.6% on over 60 products. Prices for eight of them went up 20%.

U.S. spending on prescription drugs continues to rise up 12.2% in 2014.

A former paralegal from Sanofi, Diane Ponte has filed a whistleblower action alleging that Sanofi paid tens of millions of dollars to pharmacy groups and hospitals, through consultants Accenture and DEloitte using contracts that looked legitimate but which were in fact inducements to buy Sanofi products. Ultimately the kickbacks were used to spike sales of diabetes drugs in the States, according to the suit. The suit also alleges that about $1 billion is “unaccounted for” at the company.

The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Newark, names Sanofi, Viehbacher and several other top executives, CNBC reports.

Two years ago, Sanofi paid $109 million to settle U.S.  allegations that it had provided free syringes of its arthritis injection Hyalgan to doctors to get them to prescribe the medication. The suit said the doctors then charged payers the regular rate for the doses they received at no cost. Giving meds away can be considered an inducement to prescribe and then charge federal programs for drugs that might not otherwise have been prescribed.

Omnicare is the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy services to nursing homes and it is paying over $124 million for offering improper financial incentives to skilled nursing homes in return for their selecting Omnicare to supply their drugs to elderly Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The complaint alleged that Omnicare submitted false claims by entering into below-co Continue reading

Prosecutors for Uncle Sam have charged that Swiss drug maker Novartis have paid massive kickbacks to 26,997 physicians including money, free dinners and entertainment to steer patients to Starlix and two of its hypertension pills, Lotrel and Valturna.

Under the Stark Act, an Anti-kickback law, it is not legal for a drug company to pay doctors to induce them to write prescriptions for the company’s drugs that are reimbursable under federal health care programs. Continue reading