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Profit-02-15-10%29.JPGIn Foster Care Children and Off-Label Drug Use, I discussed the use of drugs, particularly psychotropics, to medicate children. In Who Do The Drug Companies Cater To? I talked about doctors (one in particular) who, by all accounts, clearly overprescribed medications, including Seroquel and clozapine.

Now, an article from the Anchorage Daily News reports that the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights filed a federal lawsuit against over a dozen Alaskan psychiatrists, stating that the doctors “unnecessarily drugged children and committed Medicare fraud.”

The article points out that children on Medicare are four times as likely to be put on antipsychotic medication as children who have private insurance. 90% of children seeing psychiatrists are put on medication, while less than 10% of those medications are FDA approved for children.

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The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH—you can follow them on Twitter) will hold a free public meeting to address concerns and discuss strengthening of the 510(k) process. The agenda includes:

  • Issues related to predicate devices;
  • Issues related to new technologies and scientific evidence;
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Instead of doing our usual Monday Drug Blog Round-Up yesterday, we opted for a fuller post on the recent plaintiffs’ pain pump victory in Oregon. For more on that story, see the Oregonian. So, today we’ll bring you the links to the stories we’re following:

  • Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: FiercePharma lists the top ten drugs for a percentage of web-based traffic from DTC ads. YAZ is seventh, even “better” than Viagra.
  • Radiation Therapy Malpractice: Pat Malone reports on the dangers of technology, training, and procedures in radiation therapy: “Scott Jerome-Parks suffered terrible radiation burns to his neck, and lingered for two years in agony before dying, because he received a seven-fold overdose in the radiation that was supposed to treat his tongue cancer, on three separate occasions.”
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Some noteworthy news items to start your week:

    • Tylenol: Tylenol drug recall expanded to include other Johnson & Johnson/McNeil products (Motrin, Benadryl, Rolaids, Simply Sleep, St. Joseph). See the manufacturer’s press release.
    • Radiation: Philadelphia Veterans Administration acknowledges that incorrect dosages of radiation were given to 114 veterans for prostate cancer. See the Legal Blog of Shrager, Spivey & Sachs.
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It will be a great year. If one of your new year’s resolutions is to follow industry news more closely, here’s some required reading:

  • Hormone Therapy: Bloomberg reports on the latest Plaintiff’s Prempro victory (actually, the drug at issue here was Provera, later combined with Premarin by Wyeth to make Prempro)—a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that the trial court wrongly granted judgment for defendants, notwithstanding a jury verdict for Plaintiff. We’ll report more on this later in the week.
  • Conflicts of Interest: The New York Times notes that two Harvard Hospitals (Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s) have issued new guidelines on outside pay for senior officials. They can now only accept a maximum of $5,000 per day of actual work—and no stock. Importantly, the speaker’s fees from drug companies are prohibited for all employees. The momentum is good—let’s hope these attitudes spread.
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit yesterday issued its opinion in Scroggin v. Wyeth, et al. The opinion is overwhelmingly positive for women and their families who have been injured by the hormone therapy. Donna Scroggins, like many women who took hormone therapy, suffered from breast cancer in both of her breasts and later had both of them removed.
In the underlying 2008 Arkansas trial, the jury found Defendants liable to the tune of $2.75 million in compensatory damages, and $27 million in punitive damages.

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Johnson & Johnson’s former sales representative (an employee tasked with selling products to doctors and hospitals) admitted in a New Jersey trial that he encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug for unapproved uses. Risperdal is an antipsychotic medication now approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability in children with autism. It is specifically not indicated for the treatment of patients with dementia-related psychosis. Previously, it had only been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia.

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Stryker and many of its executives have been indicted on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States Food and Drug Administration, distribution of a misbranded device, and making false statements to the FDA. The charges were made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

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Here’s a list of some important stories we’ve been tracking.

  • Boston Globe article probing the financial ties between Massachusetts doctors and Eli Lilly, a large drug manufacturer. “When the [drug] company provides the PowerPoint [for the doctor’s presentation], the risk of bias is even greater.”
  • Seattle Post Intelligencer article examining the fatal overdose of a 15-year-old teen with autism. Michael Blankenship had a dental procedure and was given a Fentanyl Pain Patch. These are typically product liability cases, but it looks like Michael never should have received the patch in the first place, so Michael’s family has filed a medical negligence complaint.