Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, joined Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez this morning to talk about our new report that shows the pharmaceutical industry has overtaken the defense industry in the amount of fines paid for violating the Fair Claims Act.
Posts Tagged ‘big pharma’
Defense contractors,who may never live down their reputation of overcharging the government (remember the $640 toilet seats?), can now offer up that there is a worse industry when it comes to cheating the government. A Public Citizen report released today found that the pharmaceutical industry has now become the biggest defrauder of the federal government.
The study found that pharmaceutical cases accounted for at least 25 percent of all federal Federal Claims Act violation payouts over the past decade, compared with 11 percent by the defense industry.
The fraud results were a key finding from a Public Citizen analysis of all major pharmaceutical company civil and criminal settlements on the state and federal levels since 1991 and found that the frequency with which the pharmaceutical industry has allegedly violated federal and state laws has increased at an alarming rate. Of the 165 pharmaceutical industry settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during the past 20 years, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the dollar amount ($14.8 billion) have occurred during the past five years.
Many of the infractions, and the single largest category of financial penalties, stemmed from the practice of off-label promotion of pharmaceuticals – the illegal promotion of a drug for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Off-label promotion can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the potential for serious adverse health consequences to patients from such promotional activities. Another major category of federal financial penalties was purposely overcharging for drugs under various federal programs, which constitutes a violation of the FCA.
Here’s the report: (more…)
Today’s Flickr Photo
If you read one thing today . . .
We already knew that pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline wasn’t above putting profits before patient health. There’s the case of its diabetes drug Avandia, the sale of which the FDA recently restricted. And now comes the disturbing news that the British drug maker knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an antidepressant that didn’t work. Glaxo will pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints in this latest round of court cases, write Gardiner Harris and Duff Wilson in the New York Times. The case was sparked by complaints from Glaxo’s former quality manager, Cheryl D. Eckard, who told the FDA about serious problems at Glaxo’s premier manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico:
But Ms. Eckard soon discovered that quality control was a mess: the water system was contaminated; the air system allowed for cross-contamination between products; the warehouse was so overcrowded that rented vans were used for storage; the plant could not ensure the sterility of intravenous drugs for cancer; and pills of differing strengths were sometimes mixed in the same bottles.
Although F.D.A. inspectors had spotted some problems, most were missed. And the company abandoned even the limited fixes it promised to conduct, the unsealed lawsuit says. Ms. Eckard complained repeatedly to senior managers; little was done. She recommended recalls of defective products; recalls were not authorized. In May 2003, she was terminated as a “redundancy.”
By now you’ve probably seen the video from the Rand Paul for U.S. Senate campaign rally in Lexington, Ky. where Paul supporters wrestled a female MoveOn.org protestor to the ground and one man stepped on her head. The guy who appears on video to be stomping 23-year-old Lauren Valle has told reporters that he wasn’t trying to hurt her. Rather, he was trying to hold her down for police and had to use his foot because a bad back prevents him from bending over. Valle told police she was assaulted while trying to take a photo with Paul while holding a fake “employee of the month” award:
“I think that this is an extreme example of the kinds of sentiments that people are feeling in many races across the country,” Valle said. “I think that tension is incredibly high.”
Ok, so I broke down and took Hearst’s RealAge test for research purposes. But I’m pretty sure the results are stuck in Public Citizen‘s spam filter. The gist of it is that you take RealAge’s online quiz about your health history and habits, and it cranks out your “real” age for you, plus or minus a few years. Predictably, couch potatoes and bacon eaters have years subtracted, while folks with clean medical histories have years added.
And then RealAge sells your info and email to pharmaceutical companies, as the New York Times reported yesterday. Our friends at the CL&P blog have a great post on this, questioning the legality of this business model.
Anyway, RealAge’s questionnaire is unremarkable. (more…)
The New York Times’ Stephanie Clifford had an interesting piece today about RealAge, an online quiz site that apparently has garnered a fair amount of press from Oprah etc. Public Citizen’s Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research, weighs in by telling the Times how sites like this take advantage of consumers’ health fears:
“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up,” said Peter Lurie, M.D., the deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a public interest group in Washington. The company, he said, “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis.”
We stumbled on this recent interview with Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and our acting president (pictured at left with our former president, the indefatigable Joan Claybrook), in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Over the course of a brief conversation with Alan Cassels, Dr. Wolfe rebuts a number of big pharma talking points. (more…)
There’s a great piece in the Wall Street Journal today about Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. Dr. Wolfe, who over the years has worked to get several harmful drugs off the market and stricter warnings put on other drugs, was recently appointed to a four-year term on the Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee, which advises the FDA on the safety of drugs. WSJ reporter Alicia Mundy’s lead in her story, “A Wolfe in Regulator’s Clothing: Drug Industry Critic Joins the FDA” is wonderful:
The pharmaceutical industry has a recurring nightmare: Drug-safety crusader Sidney Wolfe becomes a player at the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Wolfe also has a nightmare: One of his children goes to work for a drug maker.
Of the two, the doctor is sleeping more soundly.
Peter Lurie, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, and Jonas Hines, a PC research associate, opined in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about noted Emory psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, he of the $2.8 million in Pharma consulting contracts.
It might be tempting to write off Nemeroff as a bad apple. But investigations by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee have identified several other prominent academics who failed to disclose the enormous sums of industry largess they accepted.
The problem is the notion that disclosure alone is a panacea for conflict of interest. Disclosure amounts to an evasion of responsibility because the consumer of the disclosed information then becomes responsible for interpreting it. Is a talk by a presenter who has received $30,000 from a sponsor twice as tainted as one by a presenter who has accepted $15,000?
Read the rest of their op-ed at AJC.com.