Pharmaceutical Companies Pay the Price of Criminality

Pioneer Press
Minnesota to get $4 million in Bristol-Myers Squibb settlement

By Jennifer Bjorhus
Jul. 22, 2008
   Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is paying Minnesota $4.35 million to settle allegations of Medicaid fraud, the state Attorney General’s office announced Tuesday.
The Minnesota payment is part of a $515 million settlement the U.S. Department of Justice reached with New York-based Bristol-Myers last fall regarding Medicaid overpayments, the company said. Minnesota joined the settlement along with 42 other states.
   The settlement resolved allegations that between the 1990s and 2005 Bristol-Myers and its former subsidiary Apothecon Inc. inflated prices for various prescription drugs covered by Medicaid, bribed doctors and health care providers to buy products and promoted using an antipsychotic drug called Abilify to treat children and dementia-related psychosis, which are uses the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved. The company was also accused of misreporting sales of an antidepressant called Serzone.

Tri-City Herald
State to get $6.8 million settlement from company 

By Ingrid Stegemoeller
Jul. 22, 2008
   Washington state will receive nearly $6.8 million from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and its former subsidiary Apothecon Inc., to settle allegations of illegal marketing and pricing of prescription medications, according to the state Attorney General’s office.
   About $389 million plus interest will be paid out to 43 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government to compensate Medicaid programs that were overcharged for medications.

Southtown Star
Parents vindicated for questioning mental health screening process
Fran Eaton
July 23, 2008
Paranoid. Schizophrenic. Obsessive. Compulsive. Those are words normally used to describe mental health disorders. But just last year they were used disparagingly to describe Illinois parents who wanted to be notified before their children underwent mental health screenings at school.

They’ve got to feel vindicated this week because the state of Illinois received $10 million from the huge drug conglomerate Bristol-Myers Squibb. It was Illinois’ portion of a $515 million lawsuit settling a broad array of civil allegations involving Bristol-Myers’ drug marketing and pricing practices.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleged for four years Bristol-Myers pushed their antipsychotic drug Abilify onto child psychiatrists and pediatric specialists to use on children before the Federal Drug Administration authorized its use on minors.

The company also allegedly instructed its sales force to sell Abilify to nursing home providers for use on dementia patients, even though the FDA had approved it only for treating schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They also were accused of overcharging the drugs to Medicaid. The company did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to pay out $515 million.
Those paranoid parents don’t seem so obsessive today. The Bristol-Myers settlement points again to the need for parents to be closely involved before their child’s mental health status is scrutinized by school staff.

In a growing number of Illinois high schools, a computerized screening system called TeenScreen asks 14 through 18-year-olds personal questions such as “Have you often felt very nervous when you’ve had to do things in front of people?” or “Have you often worried a lot before you were going to play a sport or game or do some other activity?”
TeenScreen then asks a couple of zingers, including “Have you ever tried to kill yourself?” The students’ answers may determine whether they are referred for professional help or passed into normalcy with flying colors.

TeenScreen is sold to school systems and parents as a tool to detect depression and prevent suicide, the third leading cause of death in youth aged 15 to 24.

But the National Alliance for Mental Illinois blames intrusive parents for driving up the stigma surrounding mental health. Those moms and dads opposed to TeenScreen’s private questions are involved in “campaigns of misinformation designed to stir up fear, confusion and outrage.”

Those who say parental notice isn’t required now are misrepresenting the truth, NAMI says.

“Contrary to the claims of those attacking the TeenScreen program, the TeenScreen program requires parental consent and teen assent to participate before any screening can be done,” the NAMI Web site says. “It does not provide a diagnosis nor does the screening result in a child receiving psychotropic medication. Instead, it identifies teens that may be at risk and works with the family to link them with a mental health professional for an evaluation.”

That’s not exactly how smoothly the system worked with one family in neighboring Indiana.

Because Mike and Teresa Rhoades were unaware in 2005 their 15-year-old daughter was being screened for mental health issues at school, they were shocked when she came home from school asking about obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Their shock turned to anger when the Rhoadeses learned Chelsea’s curiosity was stirred because she had gone through TeenScreen’s system and been told that day that she had mental health issues.

The Indiana school said all parents were notified about the testing and unless they had sent back written rejection of the screening, they assumed the parents approved. The Rhoadeses say they never saw the original notification and therefore could not reject the testing. That’s a system called “passive permission.”

Anyone with teens in the house knows such a loose system of communication between school and home is totally unacceptable. Most parents want active consent when it comes to their children’s health care.

In Illinois, parents are left to deal with the after effects when they’ve been left out of the screening process. Illinois law goes so far as to allow a minor to see a mental health counselor up to six times before parents are notified.

State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Westmont) said Bristol-Myers’ questionable sales tactics and alleged practice of overcharging Medicaid points to an even larger, more troubling issue.

“This really calls into question their business ethics. We hear of dishonest practices in accounting and stock investing, and that’s bad enough. But when you’re dealing with people’s physical or mental health or even their lives, this is very important and extremely serious,” Bellock said.

Bellock said she’s willing to push for parental consent before mental health screenings take place again next year, but that unless legislators are convinced parents need to be involved, nothing will happen.

You know those paranoid, schizophrenic and overprotective moms and dads who will keep fighting to protect their kids from compulsive, obsessive drug companies.

God bless ’em.

Fran Eaton is a south suburban resident, a conservative activist in state and national politics and an online journalist. She can be reached at


PharmExec Direct
Bristol Meyers Squibb Settlement Cash Distributed
Jul 23, 2008


Time to divvy up the cash. Last week, the 44 states involved in a massive lawsuit against Bristol Meyers Squibb for illegal off-label marketing of its anti-psychotic drug Abilify have begun distributing monies collected from the $515 million settlement.

Of the states that have begun seeing checks: Missouri will be receiving $11 million, the Massachusetts Medicaid program will take $9 million, Indiana will see $2 million, Georgia will get $12 million, and Delaware expects about a $1 million.

While some are pleased that the settlement is leading to financial reparations, others are concerned that these illegal off-label practices will continue.

“The allegations were that these companies not only engaged in a pattern of kickbacks and false reporting to drive up both the sales and prices for its drugs, they also encouraged healthcare providers to prescribe a potent drug to both children and seniors for uses that had not been approved by the FDA,” Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker stated in a release.

BMS also agreed last week to pay New York City $7.5 million, and the state of New York $40 million for inflating wholesale prices of its drugs. The settlement stems from a 2004 lawsuit brought by the city against 44 pharmaceutical companies.

“This lawsuit is one of several that the city brought in an effort to rein in the widespread fraudulent practices that unlawfully inflate the city’s Medicaid costs,” said Michael Cardozo, corporation counsel of the City of New York. “The settlement will return to the city almost the full value of its claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb. We are pleased at the successful resolution reached with one of the defendants, and hope to reach similarly successful resolutions with others.” 

What about your State?   

If your state is not listed below, contact your own State Attorney General here: , ask for the Media Relations person and  then ask for the press release (or the settlement dollar amount) on the Bristol-Myers Squibb settlement for illegally promoting their antipsychotic drug Abilify for use in kids and the elderly.   
Then flip the press release to your local newspaper.     Note: Word has it that Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin did not participate.
See  articles here:  
Arkansas $1.3 million
California  $23 million
Connecticut  $1.9 million
Delaware  $1.1 million
Florida  $21.5 million
Georgia  $12.1 million
Idaho  $1.7 million 
Illinois  $10 million
Indiana  $2.2 million
Kansas  $3 million 
Kentucky  $3 million 
Maine  $829,862
Maryland  $2.3 million 
Massachusetts  $9.2 million 
Minnesota  $4.35 million 
Missouri  $11 million
Nebraska $3.2 million 
New Hampshire $1.2 million
New York  $40 million
North Carolina  $14.8 million 
NYC $7.5 million 
Ohio  $6.5 million 
Oregon  $3 million
South Dakota  $700,000
Texas $15.7 million
Vermont  $318,963
Washington  $6.8 million 

27,407 Signatures Against TeenScreen. Petition:   Video:  


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