Nassau County on Long Island filed a lawsuit Monday against several pharmaceutical companies, alleging their prescription painkillers helped fuel the opioid epidemic that costs the county millions of dollars annually to combat, reports the Wall Street Journal. The complaint, filed in Nassau County Supreme Court, targets several companies including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Purdue Pharma LP and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. The defendants also include drug distributors and doctors.
After the national outrage over EpiPen’s increase of the price of a box epinephrine injections to $609 last August, Mylan, the manufacturer, promised to live up to its motto of doing what’s right, not what’s easy. But, writes Charles Duhigg in The New York Times, last week regulators said the company had most likely overcharged Medicaid by $1.27 billion for EpiPens and the retail price of a box was still $609. The device contains about $1 of the drug epinephrine.
A recent article in The New York Times provided insights into the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to ensure that any new policies to lower drug prices would not hurt their profits.
In the first quarter of this year, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent $78 million on lobbying, 14% more than in the same period last year.
In the 2016 election cycle, the industry contributed more than $58 million to the election campaigns of members of Congress and presidential candidates, a 20% jump from the 2012 cycle
The industry pays 1,100 lobbyists, more than two for each member of Congress.
Last year Representative John Shimkus, Republican from Illinois, helped persuade the Obama Administration to kill a project that would have lowered drug prices in Medicare Part B, which spent $24.6 billion on prescription drugs in 2015. In the last election cycle, Shimkus received $300,00 in drug industry contributions.
According to data from 2015 Open Payments reports, reports a new study in JAMA, 48% of physicians were reported to have received a total of $2.4 billion in payments from biomedical and pharmaceutical industries and group purchasing organizations. Physicians in surgical vs primary care specialties and male vs female physicians had a higher likelihood and higher value of payments.
Transparency International’s Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Programme has launched a set of new principles focused on strengthening ethical standards across the pharmaceutical sector in Latin America, promoting integrity and ethical business practices. “Business Principles for Promoting Integrity in the Pharmaceutical Sector in Latin America” calls on pharma companies to implement these Principles to help reduce the risk of corruption, which holds back effective healthcare, for example by denying millions of people to fair access to necessary, and often life-saving medicines. The Pharma Integrity Principles for Latin America aim to promote integrity in the pharmaceutical sector and guide companies in eliminating bribery and related conflicts of interest; demonstrating that the pharma industry is able to do business with integrity; making a positive contribution to improving business standards of integrity, transparency and accountability; and development, or strengthening of a practical and effective internal anti-corruption or integrity programs.
In a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, Robin Feldman and Connie Wang write that pharmaceutical companies have become adept at converting regulatory pathways into vehicles for profit-boosting strategies. They study the “citizen-petition process” that the Food and Drug Administration implemented in the 1970s to give the average citizen a way to voice concerns. Using 12 years of FDA data, they found that the “concerned citizen” is frequently a drug company raising frivolous or questionable claims in a last-ditch effort to hold off competition.
The Food and Drug Administration’s approach to consumer protection faces a potential turning point when a Senate committee takes up President Trump’s nomination of Scott Gottlieb to head the agency, writes POGO, the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. Trump has called for slashing FDA restraints on pharmaceuticals, and with Gottlieb’s appointment he would entrust the task to a doctor and former FDA official who has been immersed in the pharmaceutical industry. One of The FDA’s main missions is making sure that prescription medicines sold to the public are safe and effective. The FDA gets much of its funding through so-called “user fees” paid by pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and the money comes with strings attached, giving industry extraordinary leverage over its federal overseer. In Gottlieb, Trump has chosen a potential FDA commissioner whose financial disclosures list line after line of payments from drug and biotech companies.