Tuesday, January 18, 2011

US Drug Watchdog says Recalled Pain Drugs Darvocet and Darvon could kill


Publisher’s Note: The following release from US Drug Watchdog adds to a growing body of evidence that calls into question the intent of the pharmaceutical industry as it attempts to persuade policy-makers that it should have a major policy-making role in oversight of determination of the safety of safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One countries. To elevate an industry that is—or should be—subject to the strictest governmental oversight to a prominent role to help determine the processes of the agency—in this instance, the FDA—that is charged with providing oversight of that industry’s manufacturing processes is completely irrational, particularly when that industry (Pharma) has a proven record of manufacturing processes that expose Americans to potential harm to their health as well as proven fraud. The release follows:

The US Drug Watchdog is calling the recalled pain pills Darvocet, Darvon, or the generic propoxyphene some of the most lethal drugs ever sold in the United States, and is urging all US citizens to stop taking Darvocet, Darvon, or the generic version propoxyphene pain pills immediately.

“We are astonished with how many people we have talked with, who took Darvocet, or Darvon, had a heart attack, developed severe heart rhythm issues, and now are either medicated to control their heart beat, or they have a pacemaker. This should be on the national news every day," the group says.

The US FDA ordered a recall of these drugs on November 10th 2010, yet there is a worry that most consumers have not yet heard of the recall.

US Drug Watchdog says, "22 million US citizens have used the recalled pain pills Darvocet, Darvon. These recalled pain pills can cause severe heart problems including, heart attacks, sudden deaths, or severe heart damage.

“We need to hear from every Darvocet, Darvon, or propoxyphene user, who has developed severe heart issues, or heart problems."

For more information please call the US Drug Watchdog at 866-714-6466, or contact the group via its web site at http://USDrugWatchdog.com

"We don't think-we know the recalled Darvocet, Darvon, or the generic version propoxyphene are still being used by millions of US citizens, these specific types of pain pills have been associated with heart rhythm issues, heart attacks, sudden death, and many users now have pacemakers, because of the damage done by these widely used medications," the group continues

"These pain pills have killed completely innocent US citizens, and our number one goal is to identify every individual in the United States, who has used the recalled Darvocet, or Darvon, and then developed heart rhythm issues, heart attacks, or other severe complications, including having to now have a heart pacemaker.

“We now fear it’s in the 10,000's.

"If you, or a loved one has suffered from abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, or other heart problems while taking Darvon, Darvocet, or the generic propoxyphene, please call us immediately at 866-714-6466." Darvocet, or Darvon victims can also contact the US Drug Watchdog via its web site at http://USDrugWatchdog.com

What are some typical symptoms experienced by many Darvocet, or Darvon pain pill users?

The US Drug Watchdog indicates the serious side effects that they are aware of with respect to Darvocet, or Darvon users are as follows:

Heart Arrhythmia

Heart Attack

Suicide

Overdose

Sudden Death

The US Drug Watchdog , the premier private pharmaceutical watchdog in the United States, concludes with the following alert:

"The Internet, and cable TV are loaded with advertisements, about compensation for Darvocet, or Darvon users, ads talking about Darvocet, or Darvon class actions, and or lawsuits, related to heart attacks, or heart rhythm problems.

“Unfortunately, the vast majority of the attorneys, or law firms advertising for help with heart conditions, heart attacks, or even sudden death after using the recalled Darvocet, or Darvon are middlemen marketing law firms-not the actual trial law firms, that will prosecute these cases.

"We want to make certain the Darvocet, or Darvon victims get to the actual trial law firms, or attorneys, that have the best record in achieving significant results for their clients-not a middleman marketing law firm." http://USDrugWatchdog.com
Federal Case No. 2:10-cv-04455

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/01/18/prweb8071777.DTL#ixzz1BOOEkfLV

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Consumer-based organization in support of personal importation of prescription medicines launches national campaign

New Consumer-based organization in support of personal importation of prescription medicines launches national campaign

The RxRights Coalition, comprised of advocacy organizations around the country that are concerned about the high cost of pharmaceuticals in the U.S., has launched an outreach and communications program to ensure that Americans are able to exercise their right to access to safe, affordable medicines from licensed and registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries who standards of oversight and efficacy meet or exceed those of the U.S.

Lee Graczyk, acting director of Mature Voices Minnesota, the lead organizer for the Coalition, explains that that vital medications are often too expensive for American consumers because of the predatory pricing practices of the Pharmaceutical industry.

“Personal importation not enhances the health and physical well-being of huge numbers of Americans by allowing them to benefit from the access to vital medicines, and provides financial relief for Americans with prices that are as much as 60 percent less for the very same medicines,” Graczyk explains.

Graczyk points out that Congress has repeatedly passed legislation favoring personal importation, only to see it turned back by extensive lobbying by unmanageable amendments promoted by Pharma.

Now, even though it has made agreements with the current Administration, Pharma continues to raise prices at a pace exceeding the inflation rate, Graczyk explains.

Graczyk also points to the record of safety and efficacy of personal importation of medicines.

“We believe that Americans have the capability to act responsibly in exercising their right to purchase their medicines,” Gracyzk says. “There are many ways of verifying legitimate pharmacies, and one of the most important is their record of providing safe medicines.”

Graczyk himself can point a more than decade-long-history of working on behalf of safe, affordable medicines.

In his role as public policy director of the Minnesota Senior Federation, starting in 1999 he organized monthly bus trips to Canada to ensure that seniors could obtain affordable prescription drugs. The Federation collaborated with then-Senator Mark Dayton to fund this project. For six years, Senator Dayton donated his entire senatorial salary to the cause.

The bus trips helped bring national public attention to all Americans’ need for access to safe and affordable prescriptions, and the Federation soon realized that more than the bus trips were needed to provide access to the medicines. What was required was providing them with the ability to order prescription drugs online, bringing greater convenience and savings to even more Americans.

Graczyk was instrumental in establishing a prescription drug importation program for the Federation. He scrutinized more than 20 Canadian companies, and approved those with the highest standards for the program. All met the standards of Health Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. FDA

The program is now maintained by Mature Voices Minnesota and currently has 2,200 members. Participants save anywhere from 20 to 80 percent on their prescription drugs by using the service.

Additionally, Internet importation has become a “virtual lifeline” for millions of Americans—a lifeline the RxRights consumer coalition is working to protect to allow continued access to safe and affordable prescription prescription medicines.

The Coalition is a partnership of organizations throughout the country that support reimportation in order to expand this influence. The Coalition’s goal is to inform and educate both the public and elected officials on the issues surrounding prescription drug sales in this country.

Reasons to Join this Effort:

The prices that Americans pay for prescription medicines are the highest in the world.

A prescription drug one cannot afford is neither safe nor effective.

Every American is entitled to enjoy the health benefits made possible by prescription medicines.

Access to safe, affordable prescription medicines from licensed, regulated pharmacies outside the U.S. will reduce the costs of medications and improve the health of U.S. citizens.

Lack of competition in the U.S. allows pharmaceutical companies to fix prices and overcharge Americans.

The Coalition Pledges to:

Present the truth about the safety, efficacy, and cost-savings of prescription medicines from outside the U.S.

Support policies allowing U.S. citizens to exercise their right of freedom of choice in determining where they purchase their prescription medicines.

What You Can Do:

Join the coalition

Sign the petition

Tell your friends about the website

Contact your Senators and Representatives and let them know that you support prescription drug importation

Follow RxRights on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

The Coalition holds regular teleconferences to discuss safe and affordable drug importation. Contact Lee Graczyk to join the Coalition or for more information.

List of Coalition Members


Monday, January 10, 2011

CMS: Healthcare spending increased to $2.5 trillion in 2009, Drug Prices Up

Publisher's Note: The pharmaceutical industry has once again led the way in price increases, indicating, we believe, that the only relief that hard-pressed Americans will receive from the predatory pricing practices of pharma will be through allowing U.S. citizens to make their own health decisions and have access to safe, affordable medicines--the very same medicines produced by pharma and sold in the U.S. at prices as much as 60 percent higher that those prices outside the U.S.--from licensed, registered pharmacies in Tier One Countries.

The recession slowed healthcare spending in 2009, according to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report on national health expenditures. However, sectors including prescription medications and freestanding home healthcare services logged increases.


Although U.S. healthcare spending increased 4.0 percent in 2009, this represented a drop from the 4.7 percent increase in 2008. Total health expenditures reached $2.5 trillion, or $8,086 per person in 2009—17.6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the report.

Hospital spending increased 5.1 percent to $759.1 billion in 2009, compared to 5
Publish Post.2 percent growth in 2008.

Growth in 2008 and 2009 was much slower than the trend between 1999 and 2007, when spending increased an average of 7.2 percent per year.

The slower growth in 2009 was influenced by decelerating private health insurance spending and slower price growth. Partially offsetting these factors was an increase in Medicaid spending, as Medicaid enrollment increased considerably in 2009, CMS stated.

Spending on physician and clinical services increased 4.0 percent in 2009 to $505.9 billion, a deceleration from 5.2 percent growth in 2008. Slower growth in the use and intensity of services in 2009 was partially offset by increasing prices. Spending for other professional services, such as physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, and
mental health, also decelerated in 2009, increasing 5.3 percent to $66.8 billion. Spending in this area increased by 6.6 percent in 2008.

Spending for residential and personal care services accelerated in 2009, increasing 8.3 percent to $122.6 billion compared to 4.6 percent growth in 2008.

This category includes expenditures for medical services delivered in non-traditional settings, such as schools or community centers, ambulance providers, and residential mental health and substance abuse facilities.

In addition, spending for freestanding home healthcare services increased 10 percent in 2009, to $68.3 billion, following growth of 7.5 percent in 2008.

Spending for freestanding nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities increased 3.1 percent in 2009 to $137.0 billion, a deceleration from growth of 5.0 percent in 2008.

Prescription drug spending accelerated in 2009 to $249.9 billion, increasing 5.3 percent after 3.1 percent growth in 2008, driven by faster growth in both prices and utilization, according to the report.

Spending for durable medical equipment, which includes items such as eyeglasses and hearing aids, decreased 0.8 percent to $34.9 billion after increasing 2.3 percent in 2008.

Spending for other non-durable medical products, such as over-the-counter medicines, decelerated in 2009, increasing 2.2 percent to $43.3 billion compared to 3.1 percent growth in 2008.

Medicare spending grew 7.9 percent in 2009 to $502.3 billion, the same rate of growth as in 2008. Spending for fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare accelerated in 2009, increasing 5.5 percent, compared to 4.4 percent growth in 2008.

Medicare Advantage
(MA) spending increased 15.8 percent in 2009 following 21.4 percent growth in 2008 and was primarily attributable to a continuation of significant increases in MA enrollment. Total Part D spending (which includes spending for benefits, government administration, and the net cost of health insurance) increased 9.3 percent to $54.5 billion in 2009.

Total Medicaid spending grew 9.0 percent in 2009 to $373.9 billion, an acceleration from 4.9 percent growth in 2008, and was driven by a 7.4 percent increase in Medicaid enrollment.

Federal Medicaid expenditures increased 22 percent, while state Medicaid expenditures declined 9.8 percent. This difference in growth is due to a significant increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) used to determine federal Medicaid payments to states—a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Private health
insurance premiums grew 1.3 percent in 2009, a deceleration from 3.5 percent growth in 2008. Benefit payment growth also slowed, from 4.4 percent in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009.

“These trends were heavily influenced by the recession as private health insurance enrollment declined.

"In 2009, spending for benefits increased faster than premiums, and as a result, the net cost of private health insurance (or the difference between premiums and benefits) fell to an 11.1 percent share of total private health insurance spending from 12.4 percent in 2008—a continuation of its recent decline,” CMS stated.

Out-of-pocket spending grew 0.4 percent in 2009, a deceleration from 3.1 percent growth in 2008, as these expenditures declined for dental services, nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities, and physician and clinical services, according to the report.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pharmaceutical Industry is Biggest Defrauder of the Federal Government under the False Claims Act, Public Citizen Study finds

Publisher's Note: This article from Public Citizen illustrates the continuing questionable practices of the pharmaceutical industry and casts doubts on the veracity of the many organizations and individuals who act as fronts for it...and upon the judgement of the Obama Administration which has struck deals with Pharma and is prepared to accept its 'guidelines' on identification of bogus pharmacies, including the attempt to cast a net to snare legitimate on-line pharmacies offering Americans their only access to safe, affordable medicines.

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 2 , 2011 – The drug industry has now become the biggest defrauder of the federal government, as determined by payments it has made for violations of the False Claims Act (FCA), surpassing the defense industry, which had long been the leader, according to a new Public Citizen study.

The study found that pharmaceutical cases accounted for at least 25 percent of all federal FCA payouts over the past decade, compared with 11 percent by the defense industry.

The fraud results were a key finding from a Public Citizen analysis of all major pharmaceutical company civil and criminal settlements on the state and federal levels since 1991 and found that the frequency with which the pharmaceutical industry has allegedly violated federal and state laws has increased at an alarming rate. Of the 165 pharmaceutical industry settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during the past 20 years, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the dollar amount ($14.8 billion) have occurred during the past five years.

Many of the infractions, and the single largest category of financial penalties, stemmed from the practice of off-label promotion of pharmaceuticals – the illegal promotion of a drug for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Off-label promotion can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the potential for serious adverse health consequences to patients from such promotional activities. Another major category of federal financial penalties was purposely overcharging for drugs under various federal programs, which constitutes a violation of the FCA.

On the state level, the largest category of financial penalties has come from companies deliberately overcharging state health programs, such as Medicaid. Public Citizen’s study found this to be the most common category of violation among state settlements.

The increase in payments for fraud is likely attributable to drug companies engaging in more wrongdoing and better enforcement at the state and federal level, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen.

“Desperate to maintain their high margin of profit in the face of a dwindling number of important new drugs, these figures show that the industry has engaged in such activities as dangerous, illegal promotion for unapproved uses of drugs and deliberately overcharging vital government health programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid,” said Wolfe. Wolfe compiled and analyzed the data with physicians from the Johns Hopkins General Preventive Medicine program, Drs. Sammy Almashat and Charles Preston, as well as Columbia University public health student Timothy Waterman, all of whom worked at Public Citizen.

Public Citizen’s study also found that more than one-half of the industry’s fines were paid by just a few companies – GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Schering-Plough. These four companies accounted for more than half of all financial penalties over the past two decades, paying $10.5 billion in fines collectively. These pharmaceutical companies were among the largest in the world. The two largest criminal penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government against any companies were against Lilly ($515 million) and Pfizer ($1.2 billion), both in 2009.

To conduct the study, Public Citizen created a database of information about pharmaceutical companies’ civil and criminal settlements, including information about the type of alleged violation and the amount of money paid in settlements. This study is the first to attempt to document and analyze all major pharmaceutical company settlements with both federal and state governments, the authors said.

Nationally, former pharmaceutical company employees and other whistleblowers have been instrumental in bringing to light the most egregious violations; they have initiated the largest number of federal settlements in the past decade. The number of federal settlements arising from whistleblower cases has more than doubled over the past five years, yielding total payouts more than two and a half times higher than in the previous 15 years combined.

Needed remedies include imposing steeper financial penalties and criminally prosecuting company leadership, including jail sentences, if merited.

“The danger to public safety and loss of state and federal dollars that comes with these violations require a more robust response,” Wolfe said.

To read the full report, visit http://www.citizen.org/hrg1924.
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Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.