Posts Tagged ‘Laboratories’

Jerry Brown Throws Down: State AGs Take On Abbott Labs for Blocking Generic Competition

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

California Attorney General Jerry Brown can’t abide big drug companies illegally blocking cheap generic substitutes from coming to market in a timely fashion. Check out the news just released by Press Secretary Christine Gasparac about Abbott Laboratories (ABT) and Groupe Fourner SA and how they impeded generic competition for the cholesterol-reducing drug Tricor.

All the deets are below and here’s a pdf of the $22.5 million settlement announced this morning.

El Protector De La Gente, Jerry Brown.

61077042_d98cef67ff1

California and 23 States Reach $25 Million Settlement Against Pharmaceutical Companies that Blocked Generic Drugs

Oakland-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and 23 other state attorneys general today announced a $22.5 million settlement with pharmaceutical giants Abbott and Fournier after the companies “illegally blocked” cheaper generic substitutes for the cholesterol-reducing drug Tricor.

The settlement is the result of one of the country’s first legal actions challenging pharmaceutical companies for “product hopping,” a strategy to block generic competition by making slight changes to the formulation of a drug.

“Abbott and Fournier devised a complex scheme that illegally blocked cheaper generic drugs from entering the market,” Brown said. “They used minor reformulations of the drug to delay competition and filed frivolous patent lawsuits. This scheme cost California and other states millions of dollars.”

Beginning in 1998, Abbott and Fournier, two of the nation’s largest pharamaceutical companies, partnered to manufacture and distribute Tricor, a cholesterol-reducing drug. Tricor’s annual sales were in excess of $750 million.

By 2002, as Tricor’s patents were set to expire, several drug companies sought approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a generic drug equivalent to Tricor. To be approved by the FDA, the generic-drug manufacturer must prove that its drug has the same active ingredients and the same labeling as the brand-name drug, in addition to being a therapeutic equivalent of the brand-name product.

Once a generic drug is approved for market, the market share for a brand-name drug like Tricor can decrease by up to 80 percent. Most states and group health plans require pharmacists to substitute the generic drug for a brand-name drug to get the cost benefit of the cheaper generic version.

Knowing generic manufacturers were attempting to enter the market, the lawsuit alleged that Abbott and Fournier devised a complex scheme to delay and prevent the approval and marketing of generic versions of Tricor. The companies made minor changes in the form and dosage strength of Tricor that did not provide any significant health benefits over previous Tricor formulations. These minor changes interfered with and delayed any FDA approval of the generics.

To further delay the process, Abbott and Fournier also filed more than a dozen lawsuits against generic drug manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories because the law prohibits the FDA from approving a generic drug for 30 months after patent-infringement lawsuits have been filed. After the 30-month automatic stays expired, all of the suits were eventually dismissed.

As a result of the scheme, Abbott and Fournier recorded Tricor sales exceeding $1 billion at the expense of consumers and state governments.

Today’s settlement agreement requires the companies to cease illegal efforts to block generic competition to Tricor and to pay the states approximately $22.5 million dollars. In California, the Department of General Services, Medi-Cal and the Department of Corrections will be reimbursed for overcharges.

States joining California in today’s lawsuit include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia.

Jerry Brown Throws Down – Massive Medi-Cal Fraud Case Against Medical Labs

Friday, March 20th, 2009

The phrase of the day is “qui tam.” It’s Latin for “million dollar payday,” assuming of course you are a False Claims Act whistleblower and you win, the way this federal case worked out.

California State Attorney General Jerry Brownannounced this morning news of a case in San Mateo concerning fraud and kickbacks and hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a doozy. Read all about it in his words, below.

Brown Sues to Recover Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Illegally Diverted from Medi-Cal

LOS ANGELES – Responding to a whistleblower’s allegation of “massive Medi-Cal fraud and kickbacks,” Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. joined legal action against seven private laboratories to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal overcharges to the state’s medical program for the poor.

“In the face of declining state revenues, these medical laboratories have siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars from programs intended for the most vulnerable California families.” Attorney General Brown said. “Such a pattern of massive Medi-Cal fraud and kickbacks cannot be tolerated, and I will take every action the law allows to recover what is owed,” Brown added.

According to whistleblower Chris Riedel, the CEO of Hunter Laboratories, “I confirmed with the California Department of Health Care Services that these practices were illegal. We then had a choice–either join the other labs in violating the law or be unable to compete for business. We choose to suffer the financial consequence, and follow the law.”

The lawsuit, which is pending in San Mateo Superior Court, contends that the 7 medical labs systematically overcharged the Medi-Cal program over the past 15 years.

Read more, after the jump:

(more…)

Survival Research Labs Changes Bush Street to Obama Street

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Elements of the Survival Research Laboratories, a “performance art group” active in San Francisco, just got their prank on last night by changing a substantial portion of the street signs on Bush Street to “OBAMA,” in honor of the inauguration of our 44th President.  

Will the SFPD “prosecute?” (Really, is that what the cops do – “prosecute”? Oh well.) But if that happens, jury nullification would prevent any convictions, in all likelihood.

From END BUSH, at the end of Bush Street near Presidio (as seen last year):

To this, as seen in the cold light of day:

Click to expand.

The decendents of J. P. Bush, assistant to street surveyer Jasper O’Farrell back in the 1800′s and the actual namesake of Bush Street, will NOT be pleased.

[UPDATE: Apparently, someone speaking on behalf of the SFPD feels these alterations are not "life-threatening."]