In an article from the NY Times, really a corollary to a post I had a couple of days ago discussing whether "fines" for questionable behavior like off label marketing, the sad facts of how antipsycotic drugs have been cultivated and marketed are laid out. AND IT AIN'T PRETTY!
According to the Times, the new generation of antipsychotics has also become the single biggest target of the False Claims Act, a federal law once largely aimed at fraud among military contractors. Every major company selling the drugs — Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — has either settled recent government cases for hundreds of millions of dollars or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud. Wow! Ethical pharmaceutical industry, huh.
Well, at least we're cracking down and fining these companies for wrong doing. That must be working right? Well..........maybe not quite. The industry continues to market antipsychotics aggressively, leading analysts to question how drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for about 1 percent of the population have become the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest sellers — despite recent crackdowns.
Lew Morris, chief counsel for the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, says he is serious about bolstering government efforts to reform or punish drug makers for illegal sales of antipsychotics. “The message we want to send to the industry is it’s not just the same-old, same-old,” he said in an interview.
Over the next year, the government is adding at least 15 prosecutors and 100 investigators to pursue health care fraud. Since more than 1,000 False Claims Act lawsuits are still under way, most of them focused on health care and many on lucrative antipsychotic drugs, these new lawyers should have plenty to do for years, and years, and years. Sadly.
For that reason alone, critics say they think the industry still hasn’t gone far enough to change questionable practices. I'd say so.
Posted by Bruce Lehr October 3rd 2010.