November 24, 2008
The government is paying millions for risky medications that have never been reviewed for safety and effectiveness but are still covered under Medicaid, an Associated Press analysis of federal data has found.
Taxpayers have shelled out at least $200 million since 2004 for such drugs. Yet the Food and Drug Administration says unapproved prescription drugs are a public health problem, and some unapproved medications have been linked to dozens of deaths.
Millions of private patients are taking them as well, and their availability may create a false sense of security.
The AP analysis found that Medicaid, which serves low-income people, paid nearly $198 million from 2004 to 2007 for more than 100 unapproved drugs. Data for 2008 were not available but unapproved drugs still are being sold. The AP checked the medications against FDA databases, using agency guidelines to determine if they were unapproved. The FDA says there may be thousands of such drugs on the market.
Read Article: San Diego Union Tribune
Psychiatric Solutions Inc. was on its way to becoming the nation’s leading provider of private psychiatric care when it snapped up Sierra Vista Hospital in Sacramento in mid-2005.
The company put its well-honed business formula into action: Staffing fell. Beds filled up. Profits soared.It was a winning strategy for investors. But for some patients, federal records show, checking into Sierra Vista proved dangerous — at times deadly. In December 2005, Ramona Knapp, 51, was left fatally brain damaged after hospital workers restrained her improperly, pinning her to the floor.
In March 2007, an unidentified 29-year-old woman was mistakenly given six times the prescribed dose of a potent antipsychotic drug. Even after 15 hours, she was too weak to swallow. When Steven Burton, 55, checked in for treatment of alcohol abuse and depression in February, he complained of chest pains. The intake nurse didn’t notify a doctor because, as she later told regulators, “he didn’t look sick.”
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
Attorneys who prevail in lawsuits brought in the public interest are entitled to compensation for their work, the California Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision Thursday.
Both liberal and conservative lawyers had urged the state high court to award fees to three law firms whose attorneys spent years trying to get the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to require private employers of prison labor to pay wages comparable to non-inmate workers’ wages.
The Prison Inmate Labor Initiative of 1990 created the comparable-wages requirement to prevent the use of prisoners as strikebreakers or to undercut law-abiding workers. The initiative also was intended to maximize prisoner earnings, about 80% of which the state collects for taxes, room and board and victim restitution and to support family members outside.
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
Nearly 1 ½ years after Kaitlyn Lasitter’s feet were severed on a ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, the amusement park has reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the teenager’s family, who had sued the park for negligence.
The lawyer for Kaitlyn’s parents, Monique and Randy Lasitter, said they are “relieved” the case is over, but hardly happy.
“The word ‘happy’ is not used in this family,” the lawyer, Larry Franklin, told reporters yesterday. “There is no way you can be OK when your daughter’s legs are cut off.”
In a statement, Kentucky Kingdom said it deeply regretted “the tragedy that Kaitlyn suffered” and said the settlement will provide “lifetime care” for her.
Franklin disputed that, saying that Kaitlyn’s medical condition is unstable and it is impossible to know what the future holds for her.
Read Article: Louisville Courier Journal
McKesson Corp., the nation’s largest drug distributor, has agreed to pay $350 million to settle a class action suit alleging it fraudulently hiked up the price of more than 400 medications. The settlement was brought about in part by the Philadelphia class action firm of Spector Roseman Kodroff & Willis.
In New England Carpenters Health Benefits Fund, et al. v. McKesson Corp., et al., a class of consumers and health and welfare funds filed suit in 2005 against the company alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for allegedly falsely inflating the average wholesale price, or AWP, of a number of America’s most popular prescription medications.
Those medications included allergy drug Allegra, arthritis/pain medication Celebrex, asthma drug Flonase and cholesterol medication Lipitor, which, according to Intercontinental Marketing Services, was the world’s top-selling drug as of September.
Read Article: Law.com
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