For me, the news about Big Pharma keeps getting more and more depressing. There is a question in my mind how much further they are willing to push the ethical envelope. Here's a repost of a recent note from the Pathology Blawg about fines levied against two major pharmaceutical companies (see: Court approves $1.5 billion fine for Abbott Laboratories’ Medicaid fraud case). --BAF
On October 2, 2012, the US District Court in Abingdon Virginia approved a $1.5 billion fine against Abbott Laboratories for Medicaid fraud. The case, brought by the state of Virginia, centered around how Abbott marketed its drug Depakote. This settlement represents the largest ever in a Medicaid fraud case led by a state. According to Fairfax News:
The investigation uncovered that Abbott illegally marketed Depakote for non-approved uses, including as an alternative to antipsychotics to treat dementia patients in nursing homes, and for schizophrenia. The investigation also revealed that Abbott paid rebates to health care professionals and long-term care pharmacies for increasing their off-label use of Depakote.
That last part is important. Readers will recall GlaxoSmithKline in early July paid $3 billion to settle federal health care fraud charges that it promoted some of its drugs for inappropriate uses; the fine was the largest ever in a health care fraud case. According to an article from The Guardian..., Glaxo admitted...:
… bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children.
So now we have two separate and massive health care fraud cases in just the last three months involving physicians being paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe drugs for their patients that should not have been prescribed....[The pharmacies and physicians are reaping profits] at the expense of...vulnerable patients. I would be very interested to know if any state medical boards are looking into these physicians and pharmacists who put profit before their patients.