July 31, 2014

New Charges of Fraud on Heels of Abbott’s $1.5 Billion Plea Agreement

pin it button New Charges of Fraud on Heels of Abbott’s $1.5 Billion Plea Agreement

drug fraud New Charges of Fraud on Heels of Abbott’s $1.5 Billion Plea Agreement

By Dr. Mercola

Only weeks after pleading guilty to criminal charges that it promoted its anti-seizure drug Depakote for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Abbott Labs is being sued again for similar charges with a different drug.

The new lawsuit alleges similar practices with Abbott’s cholesterol drug, TriCor. A former employee filed the whistleblower lawsuit.

Illegal Marketing Practices Mean More Trouble for Abbott

Earlier this year, Abbott settled for $1.6 billion for aggressively promoting their seizure drug Depakote to physicians for off-label use in elderly dementia patients, despite lacking evidence of safety or effectiveness.

In most cases, a billion-dollar (or more) fraud settlement would be a death-sentence for a business, but for the drug industry, it’s just another cost of doing business.

Now, just weeks later, Abbott is in the hot seat again after Amy Bergman, a former Abbott saleswoman, filed a federal lawsuit against them, alleging the company illegally promoted the drug TriCor for uses not approved by the FDA, such as reducing cardiac health risks in patients with diabetes.

The suit, which was filed under the False Claims Act in September 2009, was previously kept confidential in order to protect the whistleblower, but it was recently unsealed after federal and state governments declined to intervene.

Doctors are well within their legal rights to prescribe a drug for off-label use; it’s actually a common, albeit sometimes dangerous, practice. However, drug companies may not promote them for uses other than those that are FDA-approved.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune:1

“Bergman, who says she was an Abbott saleswoman from 1999 through 2008, alleges in the suit that she was ‘trained, directed, incentivized, and encouraged’ by Abbott to promote TriCor for so-called off-label and medically unnecessary uses. She also claims the company directed her to give illegal kickbacks to doctors to encourage them to prescribe the drug.

In doing so, she alleges, the company defrauded federal health programs, including Medicaid, for an eight-year period between 2000 and 2008.”

Even Billion-Dollar Settlements are Not Enough to Ensure Public Safety

The idea behind Big Pharma lawsuits, especially those that settle in the hundreds of millions or billions, is that the punishment will make these criminal corporations start to straighten out, abandon their fraud and deception, their kickbacks, price-setting, bribery and all other illegal sales activities in favor of looking out for public health, which to date has been clearly ineffective.

It would appear that a far better strategy would be to file criminal charges against the responsible individuals and put them in prison. This would make them think hard and long about trying to get away with these types of illegal behaviors in the future.

In the pharmaceutical world, there seem to be few crimes that don’t pay off – as long as you don’t get caught (and even then, all you’re bound to receive is a fine (a mere slap on the wrist) as long as you’re large and important enough). So make no mistake – the leading pharmaceutical companies are also among the largest corporate criminals in the world, behaving as if they are little more than white-collar drug dealers.

Two years ago, I set out to investigate some of the criminal activities that some of the largest pharmaceutical companies had been convicted of lately, and the amount of gross misconduct, fraud and deceit I found was so insidious, so massive, and so overwhelming that it shocked even me. In all, no less than 19 drug companies made AllBusiness.com’s Top 100 Corporate Criminals List! And if it seems like the number of lawsuits that Big Pharma is settling – many of them out of court without going to trial – are rising, it’s because they are.

To get a picture of what’s been going on, FiercePharma compiled a list of top marketing settlements that the industry has made in the past 10 years. In total, drug makers have agreed to pay more than $11 billion so far for their misdoings. But the worst may yet be ahead: more than 900 whistleblower lawsuits were filed in the last year alone. Some of the most not able in history include:2

  1. 2012: GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion for illegal marketing of Paxil, Welbutrin and downplaying safety risks of Avandia.
  2. 2009: Pfizer pays $2.3 billion for marketing fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica and other drugs.
  3. 2012: Johnson & Johnson will pay anywhere from $1.5 to $2.2 billion for illegal marketing of Risperdal.
  4. 2012: Abbott Laboratories settles for $1.6 billion for aggressively promoting their seizure drug Depakote for off-label use in elderly dementia patients, despite lacking evidence of safety or effectiveness.
  5. 2009: Eli Lilly pays $1.4 billion for promoting Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children and the elderly.
  6. 2011: Merck settles for $950 million to resolve fraudulent marketing allegations related to Vioxx.
  7. 2005: Serono (now Merck Serono) paid $704 million after pleading guilty to two felony charges for fraudulent marketing related to a growth hormone to treat wasting in HIV patients.
  8. 2007: Purdue Pharma paid $634.5 million for fraudulently misbranding Oxycontin, and suggesting it was less addictive and less abused than other painkillers.
  9. 2010: Allergan paid $600 million for aggressively pushing Botox for unapproved uses.
  10. 2010: AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD to sleeplessness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  11. 2007: Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $515 million for illegally promoting its atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify to kids and seniors.

Drug Company Fines

Year Fine Drug Company
2012 $1.6 Billion Depakote Abbott
2011 $950 Million Vioxx Merck
2010 $600 Million Botox Allergan
2010 $520 Million Seroquel Astra Zeneca
2009 $2.3 Billion Bextra Pfizer
2007 $515 Million Abilify Bristol Meyers
2007 $635 Million Oxycontin Purdue
2006 $7-4 Million Serono

Drug Companies Control the System

It is a well-documented fact that the drug companies have the largest political lobbying organizations. They are some of the most clever marketers on the planet, as they know how to leverage their resources by bribing politicians to give them an unfair advantage in the marketplace, often “buying” legislation that is devastating to their competition. This is typically implemented through federal regulatory agencies like the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The pharmaceutical industry spent $1.5 billion lobbying Congress in the last decade, and in so doing has manipulated the government’s involvement with the way medicine is being practiced and secondarily reinforced our dependence on pharmaceuticals, through government policies. So it should come as no surprise that the federal government has a long history of siding with, and protecting, the drug companies, such as:

  • Previous drug company funding – to the tune of $2 billion – in helping drug companies bring flu vaccines to the market faster3
  • Letting drug giants like Pfizer off the hook for fraudulent marketing charges so their products could continue to flow through Medicare and Medicaid
  • Including incentives in the “Affordable Health Care for America Act” for people to purchase more expensive prescription drugs in favor of their less expensive over-the-counter cousins4

So there should be no doubt about the power the drug industry wields in shaping the U.S. health care system. There are simply so many revolving doors between the pharmaceutical industry and the government that it makes your head spin. Here are just a few examples:

  • The American Cancer Society has close financial ties to both makers of mammography equipment and breast cancer drugs. Other conflicts of interest include ties to, and financial support from, the pesticide, petrochemical, biotech, cosmetics, and junk food industries – the very industries whose products are the primary contributors to cancer!
  • The second-highest funding source for drug studies is the National Institute of Health (NIH), which is not the group of neutral government experts you may have assumed them to be. In fact, NIH accepts a great deal of money from Big Pharma and is deeply enmeshed with the industry.
  • Drug companies pay seven-figure amounts into FDA coffers to gain approval of their drugs. FDA staff knows that the cash means higher salaries and more perks in the agency budget. (Incidentally, the FDA’s commissioner Margaret Hamburg came straight from the boardroom of America’s largest seller of dental amalgam, Henry Schein, Inc.)
  • Conflicts of interest are also rampant in a mass vaccination infrastructure that has the same people who are regulating and promoting vaccines also evaluating vaccine safety.
  • The vaccine industry gives millions for conferences, grants, and medical education classes sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The vaccine industry even helped build AAP’s headquarters.

Who Can You Trust With Your Life?

This is the question you need to ask yourself when deciding on a plan for your own health care, as your very life is at stake and depends on the options you choose.

Unfortunately, as the ever increasing slew of pharmaceutical company lawsuits and settlements reveal, when it comes to making money, many industries throw ethics and integrity out the window. You cannot blindly trust that the companies making your medications have your best interest at heart.

There’s a mountain of evidence supporting the use of drug alternatives, and there’s very strong evidence that some “alternative” treatments, such as diet and exercise, are FAR more effective than any of the drugs currently in use. But if your doctor is also under the spell of drug-industry influence, you also cannot trust that he or she will inform you of them (or even be aware of their benefit).

You can review my comprehensive and newly revised Nutrition Plan, which will serve as an excellent starting point to break free of this corruption. The tools I provide on this site will help you to reduce your reliance on the broken health care system, including its overuse of drugs, and provide you with the tools and resources to take control of your health.

Read the full article and comment here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/05/abbot-plea-on-seizure-drug-fraud.aspx


0 commentsback to post

Other articlesgo to homepage

Doctors Against Mandated Flu Vaccines

Doctors Against Mandated Flu Vaccines

Mainstream news media sources (which are heavily funded by Big Pharma) would like everyone to believe that those in the medical field are united in their support of vaccines. However, there are many doctors and healthcare officials questioning the safety and efficacy of vaccines today.

This is especially true regarding the issue of mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers. Doctors, nurses, and others are increasingly speaking out against mandatory flu vaccinations, especially in Canada.

A recent report in the Vancouver Sun quoted an emergency room doctor, Dr. Derrick Moore, as stating that he and 10 nurses refused to comply with mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in Victoria B.C. According to the Vancouver Sun, Dr. Moore stated that the health authorities in Canada were unable to pick on him and the nurses because of “strength in numbers” and the impact it would have on emergency room staffing if they were fired. He stated he believed doctors and nurses across Canada were refusing the mandatory flu vaccine.

Earlier this week, three medical doctors wrote an editorial in the Toronto Star opposing mandatory flu vaccinations for healthcare workers. They stated that the evidence of the benefits of the flu vaccine is not nearly strong enough to justify taking away a doctor’s choice to make the decision on whether or not they vaccinate themselves.

Thousands Sue for Damages Against Cholesterol Drugs as Big Pharma Defends Billion Dollar Industry

Thousands Sue for Damages Against Cholesterol Drugs as Big Pharma Defends Billion Dollar Industry

The $100 billion dollar cholesterol-lowering statin drug industry is under attack, as thousands of Americans are filing lawsuits against the manufacturers cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor. Research continues to confirm just how dangerous these drugs are, with yet another study published recently linking increased statin drug use to type 2 diabetes. Since the study was published by the American Diabetes Association, these known risks to cholesterol-lowering drugs can no longer be denied or defended, and the lawsuits are pouring in at a rapid pace. Most of the lawsuits at this point are from women who have suffered with diabetes as a result of taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, but lawsuits over breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, liver damage and others may soon follow now that it is generally known how dangerous these drugs are.

According to statistics supplied by various law firms, there were 464 claims filed against Lipitor as of April 15, 2014, which increased to 703 by May 15, and then to 846 by June 16. As of mid-July 2014 over 959 claims have been filed for damages due to Lipitor alone. There are also many claims currently filed against Crestor, the next nearest competitor to Lipitor, and undoubtedly other similar drugs now sold under generic labels. These lawsuits now number well over 1,000, and are increasing at a rapid pace. Yet, this news is largely blacked out of the mainstream media.

700 Lipitor and Diabetes Lawsuit Claims Filed Against Pfizer

700 Lipitor and Diabetes Lawsuit Claims Filed Against Pfizer

Before its patent expired, Lipitor was the best-selling drug of all time. Lipitor, the drug that artificially lowers cholesterol, outsold almost all other drugs combined during the height of its run, before the patent ran out allowing generics to enter the market. The FDA did not issue warnings about the dangerous side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs until after Lipitor’s patent expired.

The information here comes from an attorney, as attorneys across the nation see the economic opportunities now to sue Pfizer for damage done to millions of peoples’ health.

Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors’ Orders

Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors’ Orders

1 in 3 veterans polled say they are on 10 different medications.

While there is concern about overmedicating and self-medicating — using alcohol or drugs without a doctor’s approval — there are also some veterans who are trying to do the opposite: They’re kicking the drugs, against doctor’s orders.

Legal Child Kidnapping: Has the U.S. Become one of the Most Dangerous Places in the World for Children to Live?

Legal Child Kidnapping: Has the U.S. Become one of the Most Dangerous Places in the World for Children to Live?

The right to legal counsel, your Miranda rights, and the right to a speedy jury trial are American rights protected by our Constitution. But not in family court, where a single judge can decide whether or not you are a fit parent. Child Protection Services (CPS) has more power today than the police, sheriff, or FBI, as they can come into your home and remove your child without a search warrant or court order.

Someone who doesn’t like you, for any reason, can make a phone call and provide an anonymous “tip” with the result of you losing your children. Doctors you disagree with can call CPS and have your child removed from your home with no search warrant or court order, by simply reporting you to CPS. This is in fact happening all across America to thousands of families. It is time to put a stop to this.

read more


Get the news right in your inbox!