Journalism in the Public Interest

Doctors Avoid Penalties in Suits Against Medical Firms

At least 15 drug and medical-device companies have paid $6.5 billion since 2008 to settle accusations of marketing fraud or kickbacks, but none of the more than 75 doctors named as participants were sanctioned.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to illegally marketing its antipsychotic Zyprexa for elderly patients and paid $1.4 billion in criminal penalties and settlements. (AP file photo/Darron Cummings)

This story was co-published with the Washington Post

Two years ago, drugmaker Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to illegally marketing its blockbuster antipsychotic Zyprexa for elderly patients. Lilly paid $1.4 billion in criminal penalties and settlements in four civil lawsuits.

But a doctor named as a co-defendant in one suit—for allegedly taking kickbacks to prescribe the drug extensively at nursing homes—never was pursued.

Last year, Alpharma paid $42.5 million to settle federal allegations that it paid kickbacks to doctors to prescribe its painkiller Kadian.

"Health-care decisions must be based solely upon what is best for the individual patient and not on which pharmaceutical company is paying the doctor the biggest kickback," Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement announcing the settlement.

But the doctors accused of trading prescriptions for paid speaking gigs faced no consequences.

At least 15 drug and medical-device companies have paid $6.5 billion since 2008 to settle accusations of marketing fraud or kickbacks. However, none of the more than 75 doctors named as participants were sanctioned, despite allegations of fraud or of conduct that put patients at risk, a review by ProPublica found.

Reporters reviewed hundreds of pages of court records and interviewed current and former federal prosecutors, state medical board officials, attorneys for whistleblowers and, when possible, the doctors. For each doctor identified in a suit, ProPublica checked for state medical board discipline, penalties from the Medicare program and federal criminal charges.

In many of the cases, it appears that not even a cursory investigation was done to see whether the physicians had behaved inappropriately.

"Doctors have kind of gone under the radar," said Tavy Deming, a Philadelphia lawyer who represents drug company whistleblowers.

Amid concerns about the influence of drug company money on medicine, whistleblower lawsuits have emerged as a headline-grabbing tool for holding manufacturers accountable.

Yet, despite their power to secure large settlements from drugmakers, the suits have failed to resolve the culpability of physicians. Doctors often are not named as defendants, even though descriptions of their alleged misconduct are used to bolster the suits. And even when settling, many companies, including Alpharma, continue to deny the allegations.

After cases are resolved, the internal company documents used as evidence remain confidential, preventing further exploration of the physicians' behavior. Patients have no way of knowing whether their doctor's judgment has been compromised, and doctors may be tarnished by spurious accusations.

Medical boards, which normally pursue tips or complaints of wrongdoing, do not routinely scan for such cases. Justice Department lawyers, wary of spending more time and effort on a case, usually are not interested in going after lesser players.

Tony West, the assistant attorney general who oversees civil litigation nationwide for the Justice Department, declined through a spokeswoman to discuss the issue. In announcing settlements with the drug companies, however, West has said that kickbacks undermine doctors' credibility.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in a written statement that it takes "two sides to perpetuate this fraud" and that both need to be held accountable.

"Otherwise, regardless of how big of a civil settlement a drug company makes, the incentive to cheat the taxpayers will still be in place for those willing to take part," said Grassley, who has led investigations into conflicts of interest in medicine.

Doctors less-attractive targets

In recent years, pharmaceutical and medical-device companies have been barraged by whistle-blower lawsuits detailing how the pursuit of profit allegedly fueled fraud and corruption.

The suits are typically filed by former employees who say that the companies promoted drugs for unapproved uses or paid doctors to prescribe drugs or use medical devices. The suits seek to recover millions—even billions—of dollars spent on these products by government health programs.

The Justice Department joins the cases—known as "qui tam" suits, from Latin—if it believes they have merit. Whistle-blowers and their lawyers get a cut of any money collected. The government has come to rely on such cases to police companies' conduct.

For Justice Department lawyers, big drug companies make attractive targets. They are flush with profits and determined to avoid crippling legal defeats. Their bureaucratic sprawl often leaves an inadvertent trail of incriminating email and memos. The massive financial settlements they are willing to pay are often modest in light of their annual sales and profits.

Zyprexa, for example, had U.S. sales of nearly $3 billion in 2010 alone. Kadian, Alpharma's painkiller, brought in nearly $263 million, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription drug sales.

Also, the rules governing drug and device companies are strict: They are banned from pushing their products for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Doctors, on the other hand, make particularly unattractive targets. Fearful of losing their licenses—and perhaps going to prison—they will devote every penny to their legal defenses. And juries like to think the best of physicians.

"It's a scorched-earth battle" for a doctor, said Michael Loucks, a former federal prosecutor in Massachusetts who led some of the nation's biggest health-care fraud investigations. "If he's convicted, it's not only a federal prison sentence, but he loses his license."

Rules governing doctors are less strict than those for drug companies. Doctors are permitted to talk about unapproved uses of drugs or prescribe them when they believe a patient will benefit. To secure a conviction, prosecutors must show that doctors knowingly traded their prescription pads for money or perks.

Of course, doctors can be and have been held accountable in other circumstances for negligence and malpractice if they prescribe the wrong drug for a patient or quantities that are harmful.

Another factor weighing against prosecution is burnout. After spending years taking on a drug company, many government attorneys are loath to tack on more time for a relatively minor victory.

Take the case of Maryland psychiatrist Peter Gleason. In 2006, federal prosecutors in New York charged him with pushing the narcolepsy drug Xyrem, also known as GHB or the "date-rape drug," for unapproved uses such as depression and fibromyalgia, a condition marked by chronic pain and fatigue.

Gleason vigorously challenged the charges, saying he believed in the benefits of the drug. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of misbranding a drug for interstate commerce. In 2010, he was given one year of probation.

In July, Florida's health department filed an administrative complaint against him based on his conviction, apparently unaware that Gleason had committed suicide in February.

Evidence sealed at settlement

For concerned outsiders, the whistle-blower suits are often troublingly vague. Many don't provide enough specifics about physicians' roles to allow assessment of their veracity. Some offer only worrisome hints of doctors' misconduct.

But the case against Lilly and Florida psychiatrist George Jerusalem, unsealed in 2009, was rich with detailed allegations.

While purportedly receiving money and gifts from Lilly from 2001 to 2003, Jerusalem favored its antipsychotic Zyprexa, according to a case filed in federal court in Pennsylvania by Steven Woodward, a former Lilly sales representative.

Jerusalem was a consulting psychiatrist at more than 100 nursing homes in Florida's panhandle, treating 3,000 to 5,000 residents. According to the lawsuit, he prescribed more than $1 million worth of Zyprexa a year to them even though it was known to be potentially dangerous for older patients.

Jerusalem had a change of heart, the suit said, when Lilly balked at hiring his son as a sales rep.

"As he had threatened, Dr. Jerusalem retaliated by immediately starting to switch his thousands of patients from Zyprexa" to a competitor's drug, the suit said. Sales of Zyprexa among Jerusalem's patients plummeted by 33 percent in one month, the lawsuit alleged.

Jerusalem did not return calls seeking comment. His wife, Tessie, who was also named as a defendant, said the accusations in the suit about trading prescriptions for favors are "not true."

Tessie Jerusalem, who managed his home office, said her husband gave only a few talks about Zyprexa over the years. If Woodward "can prove that Dr. Jerusalem made $50,000 from the company, oh my goodness," she said. "Where did he get that amount is beyond me."

Lilly settled this and three similar suits for $1.4 billion in 2009 and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for promoting Zyprexa in elderly populations as a treatment for dementia. Although Jerusalem was named as a defendant, the case against him was dropped when Lilly settled and there was no response from him in the court file. His case shows how hard it is for outsiders to get to the bottom of such allegations.

Once the Justice Department joins a case like this one, government lawyers have access to any evidence the whistle-blower brings. With their subpoena power, they also can secure patients' medical records, a breakdown of the drugs prescribed and a listing of a company's payments to physicians.

When a case is settled, however, any evidence typically remains confidential, is sealed or even returned to the drug company. The public is effectively left in the dark.

ProPublica's effort to substantiate the allegations against Jerusalem was inconclusive. Reporters sought Medicaid-prescribing data from Florida for Jerusalem. Those records show he had prescribed only a small amount of antipsychotics during 2003.

But the data might not reveal his true impact on the prescriptions of his patients. State records showed he had treated at least 1,557 patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid (mostly nursing home residents) in 2003 alone.

It is common for consulting psychiatrists such as Jerusalem to recommend drugs for patients, while the actual prescriptions are then written by physicians who work as medical directors for the nursing homes. Assessing the allegations against Jerusalem would require a review of confidential patient medical records to show that he recommended a drug that was later prescribed by another doctor.

Prosecutors could conduct such a review with a subpoena, but federal patient privacy laws would shield the records from reporters.

Asked for substantiation, attorneys for Woodward said his claims were based on memory because he was not allowed to take his records when he was fired. They said the government found him to be a trustworthy source. Woodward did not return calls for comment.

Two government lawyers involved in the case wouldn't comment on it but said the Justice Department typically focuses on whether the allegations in a suit support a pattern of behavior by the company. The department does not vouch for whistle-blowers' specific claims about individual doctors.

Brian Kenney, a Woodward attorney, said he pushed prosecutors to pursue the psychiatrist because his conduct was "egregious," but they were not interested.

"Dr. Jerusalem's conduct is tantamount to elder abuse," the suit alleged.

Medical boards don't follow up

When physicians are accused of sexual misconduct, medical malpractice or criminal behavior, medical boards typically launch investigations and impose public discipline if justified.

Medical-board officials in several states, however, said they could not recall any cases in which a doctor had been sanctioned for taking a kickback from a drug company or being part of a company's plan to market drugs "off-label"—for uses that are not approved by the FDA.

Russell Aims, chief of staff for Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, said such cases are hard to prove because physicians can always claim they are prescribing and promoting a drug because they believe in it—not because of the money they are being paid.

"It's not like a wrong-site surgery, like sexual misconduct, like getting popped for a DWI," where the evidence is clear-cut, he said.

Further, many whistle-blower suits are filed in federal courts and never referred to state officials. Some former federal prosecutors said such suits should be routinely forwarded to state medical boards.

Attorney Marcella Auerbach, whose Florida practice represents whistle-blowers, said she is struck by the lack of interest in the cases by boards.

"There is absolutely no follow-up by any medical organization—not an email, a phone call—ever that we've received in the office," she said. "No one's asked the question."

The federal government can fine doctors or strip them of their ability to bill federal health programs. But none of the physicians named in the suits settled since 2008 have faced such actions, according to a review this summer of a list of physicians excluded from billing Medicare and Medicaid.

In an earlier round of cases, the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sanctioned three Florida doctors for seeking or receiving kickbacks from hip- and knee-device makers. One was banned from Medicare and Medicaid for three years and fined $65,000. The others were fined $650,000 and $101,000, respectively.

None was disciplined by Florida's medical board.

Lewis Morris, chief counsel to the HHS inspector general, said doctors need to know there are repercussions."If you don't focus on doctors, this is a problem that will never end," he said.

He also acknowledged that he only has the resources to focus on the most glaring cases.

"I don't have a logical defense," Morris said. "We have a finite number of people to do a hell of a lot of work, so we can't get to every case we'd like to."

Doctors say they're unfairly labeled

Some doctors named in the suits say they've been unfairly branded. The inclusion of allegations in an official court document gives them a ring of truth, they say.

A 2008 whistle-blower lawsuit against Pfizer, for instance, names Delaware psychiatrist Neil Kaye as "one of the key champions of this nationwide fraudulent marketing scheme" involving the antipsychotic Geodon.

At least one of Kaye's PowerPoint presentations, the suit alleged, promoted the drug to treat a host of conditions for which it was not approved by the FDA.

Pfizer paid Kaye $4,000 a day plus expenses, said the suit, filed in Massachusetts. He even used his private helicopter to fly to speaking gigs "all at Pfizer's expense," the suit said.

Pfizer paid the government $2.3 billion in 2009 to resolve this and 10 other civil suits and a criminal case. As part of the settlement, a Pfizer subsidiary pleaded guilty to felony charges relating to the painkiller Bextra, which was pulled from the market in 2005. Kaye was named as a co-defendant but said he was never served with the suit nor was a party to the settlement.

A Pfizer spokesman said the allegations against Kaye are false. In an interview, Kaye said, "I've never off-label marketed. I never would."

Kaye said people have mentioned the suit to him. "I sometimes try to convince people that not everything that is on the Internet is the truth."

Jeffrey Bostic, a child psychiatrist in Boston, similarly was accused of being a cog in Forest Laboratories' marketing of its antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for children. The drugs were not approved for that use.

In court papers filed in Massachusetts, the government said Bostic gave more than 350 Forest-sponsored talks and presentations.

"Dr. Bostic became Forest's star spokesman in the promotion of Celexa and Lexapro for pediatric use," the complaint said. The firm paid Bostic more than $750,000 in honoraria for his presentations on Celexa and Lexapro between 2000 and 2006, it said.

Bostic, who was not named as a defendant, said he was paid for his speeches but not $750,000. He said his talks were based on his experiences treating depressed children at a community mental-health center where he worked in southern New Hampshire.

Forest settled criminal and civil cases for $313 million in 2010. One of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstructing justice involving the thyroid hormone Levothroid and separate misdemeanor counts of off-label promotion of Celexa as a treatment for pediatric patients and distributing Levothroid even though it was not approved.

The misdemeanor counts did not allege that the company intended to violate the law, the company said in a statement at the time.

"I've never had difficulty sleeping at night feeling I did anything inappropriate," Bostic said. "Maybe I'm deluded. There were no kickbacks."

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 16, 2011, 2:44 p.m.

Handcuffs should clink when the drug makers pay “kickbacks to prescribe the drug extensively at nursing homes” as ProPublica wrote !!

Patients lives are endangered when medicines are pushed instead of competently prescribed !!!!

The Drug Makers and Doctor’s involved should be arrested !!

The DOJ, DOL, SEC and other government agencies are pretending that big businesses are too big to fail and too big to prosecute !!

The reality is the U.S. Government is intentionally protecting these criminal organizations that make huge political contributions, spend billions lobbying, and have former employees who become top managers of the government agencies that regulate them !!

This next paragraph may make your head spin because NO ONE WAS PROSECUTED in spite of an overwhelming pattern of crimes evidenced in this article, health care, insurance, banking, energy and all big businesses in America :

AIG received a Non Prosecution agreement for rigging huge bids to increase sales of Workers Comp; AIG received a Second Non Prosecution agreement for Aiding & Abetting Securities Fraud; AIG and Prudential received a Non Prosecution agreement for accounting frauds;  Prudential, Unum Insurance, and MetLife also committed similar bid rigging violations regarding health care plans and have received multiple Non Prosecution agreements from multiple government agencies; Metlife and Unum still endanger patients lives by ignoring life threatening medical conditions when patients file claims on the policies that the insurer committed frauds to sell; JP Morgan also received a non prosecution agreement for bid rigging in 32 States !!

Wachovia Bank laundered $378 billion of Mexican drug money, no one was prosecuted !!

Bloomberg quoted investigator Martin Woods who said :

“If you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point,”

Bank of America, American Express Bank International and Western Union also laundered drug money and no one was prosecuted.

So Americans please be aware that big businesses are free to endanger lives by committing crimes regarding legal drugs, illegal drugs, finance, insurance, medical treatment or whatever they choose.

God we need you because it seems many of our business and government leaders have no human conscience; please help the citizens of America and the World !!

We waste Billions on the so called drug war where first time possession of drugs can result in jail time but Doctors who steal millions through kick backs that would make a Mafia chief blush but we lack the resources to prosecute them.

This form of healthcare is the oldest trick in the book.  China’s first emperor died from mercury poisoning because his doctor told him he would live forever if he took it.  It actually sped up his death.

Now we’ve moved up the periodic table of the elements and prescribe “Lithium”.  When are people going to learn…

Eli Lilly’s (NOW $4.6 billion) propaganda payout is a fraud,as a matter of fact 8 Lilly employees who are supposed ‘whistle-blowers’ are getting $ 10 mill each
The real victims like me are being ignored
I have been waiting 5 1/2 years
They have three certified letters from me substantiating my claim. I am a classic case for compensation having taken the stuff for four years (for physician prescribed off-label PTSD) 1996-2000
Remember one of the issues of Lilly cover up was their goading MD’s to do the ‘off label’ prescribing and covered for them,rep slogan “viva Zyprexa”.
I paid thousands of dollars out of my own pocket in co-payments for the Zyprexa which gave me sudden onset diabetes in 2000 with a deadly A1C of 14.2 all documented at my site.
Google: Daniel Haszard Zyprexa

Daniel Haszard Zyprexa victim activist and patient who got diabetes from it. zyprexa-victims(dot)com

Hi Daniel, I too was poisoned and I’m having a hard time getting a diagnosis.  It’s all a scam and doctors are the biggest offenders in the industry.  They are enablers as they protect themselves and protect the pharmaceutical companies and medical device and equipment manufacturers from liability so they can move on to the next poison and then dump the patients they poison onto Medicare, Medicaid, the VA or health insurance companies that deny the disease exists or drop the patient for being sick. 

My poison was gadolinium based contrasting agents (GBCAs) specifically Omniscan and Magnevist.  They cause a new man-made disease called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibroisis (NSF) but should be called Gadolinium Associated Systemic Fibrosis according to Dr. Jonathan Kay as the kidneys don’t cause the disease gadolinium does. Shawn Cowper, MD runs the Yale Registry and he a few other doctors came out with a “clinicopathological definition and workup recommendation” that was very favorable to industry and ensures if you have been injured you will likely not be able to be compensated because they shut out most of us that have been seriously injured by this toxic heavy metal that stays in the body at the rate of at least 1% of every dose administered.  The “clinicopathological definition and workup recommendation” was coordinated by ACR Image Metrix, and this particular project was funded equally by Bayer HealthCare, Bracco, Covidien and GE HealthCare, all manufacturers of GBCAs and all implicated in causing NSF which should be called Gadolinium Assoicated Systemic Fibrosis according to Dr. Kay.  There were no declared conflicts of interest, imagine that?  However, just a cursory look on my part uncovered that Dr. Jonathan Kay was appointed to Array Biopharma’s Scientific Advisory Board for Inflammation Therapy.  How convenient for Dr. Kay.  He is the Director of Clinical Trials in the MGH Rheumatology Unit and an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard.  Now he has a ready population of rheumatology patients that have been poisoned by GBCAs but can’t get a diagnosis but can join one of his clinical trials for a new blockbuster inflammatory drug.

Until the mid range people are jailed, that being the minions that help and thus allow corporate boards and corporate board members to default the american public, nothing will happen.

These multi-millionaire criminals can’t pull these scams without the help of the “small people” that profit only slightly from these scam.

The mortage fraud/foreclosure mess is an example. Wall Street told smaller banks that they would buy anything that came in the door and pay a 10% commission. They then told their inside people that they’d pay a 10% commission to whomever sold this garbage in bundles, They let it be known to all that they,the money barons,  weren’t watching.

The absolute perfect example of what happens is Goldman-Sachs. They let the little people steal a little and then they played both sides of the equation and made billions.

Until the mid-range guys are locked up, its going to continue on as the big guys know they can get the minions to do their bidding for a small piece of the action.

Greed is the problem. The prosecuters plead these cases from the top down rather than the bottom up and accept minisule fines from corporations. They do this for political promotion, and get it.

If the smaller mid-range fish that conduct these slippry slope operations, that can’t pay the fines that promote prosecutors are jailed, soon the top end would have no help that is necessary to pursue these games.

Please note that the following blog is infringing on your copyright:

There’s a further problem here, in basic statistics.  Prosecutors don’t want to be seen as losing, so they’re receptive to settlements.  If you’ve ever known someone who went to court to fight a speeding ticket, you know the drill:  They’ll let you off with a slap on the wrist, as long as you plead guilty to…oh, let’s make it a parking violation.  The prosecutor gets a win, and you’re only out a fine and a day standing around in court.

This isn’t justice served.  This is padding a resume.

We’d get to the doctors, but again, prosecutors are less concerned with justice than getting an easy win.  So they settle out of court, a few bucks get spread over the victims, nobody needs to admit wrongdoing, and everybody goes home to declare victory.

Except the victims, I mean, but who’s going to care about them, right?

“If he’s convicted, it’s not only a federal prison sentence, but he loses his license.”  Uhm…yes.  Because he intentionally made people sick in the course of his job to make people healthy.  Does he want a gold medal, instead?

But, they have the AMA, conspicuously ignored in the article and a union that’s second only to Congress in terms of being able to do whatever they want for whatever price they set.  Is it any wonder that the review board doesn’t accomplish much?  Guess who’s on the board!

John, I just wanted you to know that I agree with you regarding the AMA.  The AMA is unethical in its anticompetitive efforts against anything alternative to their paradigm.  It is too powerful and self-serving and needs to be reeled in if we are to see any cost savings in healthcare.  It too is detrimental for the patient population and violative of antitrust regulations.  I hope someone with the power and will to do something gets it soon; in my opinion this organization is way out of control.

I have been given numerous RX’s and also had numerous, various side effects that doctor discounted off to my age.  Finally, got good enough to get into Legit medical sites and check out the drugs and low and behold, discovered MY side effects there on 5 different drugs.  I slowly weaned myself off them, one at a time and wait to see if MY symptoms got better or dissapeared before weaning off the next one.
I am now off 5 RX’s out of 8 and majority of bad symptoms are gone.
Still thinking about the next 3.  I decided to take a Supplement/vitamin to replace 1 drug and that works.  Had Blood work done, without yet telling my doctor what I had been doing and Guess What??  ALL blood work greatly improved along with my life.  I really quite sure doctor isn’t on the take with Pharma, but like many, today so darn busy, they hear a symptom and just prescribed.

Also, was a caretaker for a lady, that had a “test device” implanted for bladder incontinence problem.  It just didn’t do a thing, so next visit, doctor said, seems the wires became dislodged from the battery!!! AND they implanted a 2nd one with the big MFG. reps present…It never worked at all for her and she was a guinea pig. Also was on 5 major opiod pain killers from 2 different doctors that really didn’t care and she died sudden heart attack at my feet.  I had complained to the doctors about her numerous pain killers, but they brushed me off as did she.  I have so many complaints as a caregiver as to what happens to the elderly and drugs. Have little doubt that with the new HealthCare plan coming, many more elderly will be given major drugs to get rid of them a bit earlier!  Shut them up and make doctors happy. Doctors also need to learn how to say NO.

We need more tort reform, isn’t that what one of the parties tell us?  We need to protect doctors against unwarranted malpractice lawsuits, sounds hollow doesn’t it when contrasted against greed at the expense of public safety.  After all shouldn’t we blame the victims’ for their faith in doctors?  No one in power will do anything unless they can gain politically.

Paul, I agree, but didn’t the GOP fight hard against adding tort reforms in the new healthcare plan that President Obama put forth?  I thought that was one of the ONE things that SHOULD have been part of the plan.

Paul, I agree….didn’t one of the big pieces of President Obama’s healthcare plan include tort reform?  And wasn’t it the GOP that fought so hard to keep it out?  I thought that was the ONE thing that SHOULD have been a part of the plan.

Didi, tort reform is code for “maximum payout.”  In other words, your life and livelihood has a maximum value that’s pocket change for the doctor and/or his insurance company.

We call that “blaming the victim,” in that it’s your fault for suing the doctor and shouldn’t be entitled to restitution for, say, having a lung removed.  It isn’t something I recommend supporting when even a few doctors make it clear that they don’t care about their patients.

As I said elsewhere, the right way is to have the judge and jury decide the merit of the case, rather than mere guilt or innocence.  If the suit is frivolous, then make the damages bus fare home, but don’t limit the damages paid by people who have done actual enormous harm.

Tort reform should go the way of more lawsuits against big pharma and doctors.  Lawsuits protect all of us and are good for keeping costs down because they discourage big pharma and doctors from poisoning with impunity. 

Watch Hot Coffee the documentary to get a real take on what has happened in the area of litigation and tort reform.  We’ve been talked into giving away our rights by 30 second sound bites.  Hot Coffee tells the story of the woman that was burned so bad from McDonald’s hot coffee that she was hospitalized.  They show pictures of her burns. She was never the same after that and was hospitalized with 3rd degree burns that needed skin graphs.  But the right-wing spin machine used that case as an example of why Americans needed “tort reform” and right before our eyes took away our rights.  But it isn’t long before someone you love gets injured and you can’t sue because of so called “tort reform”.

It truly does seem like the government agencies are conspiring to protect the corporate entities instead of the American public. Personal recent experience was to be given a drug(not consulted, told which) in a hospital and being crippled. Since I was not crippled in any way prior it was absurd to be told a “bad Infection”(respiratory) caused a torn/ruptured rotator cuff and many other ailments. Only after fighting to get my records from that stay did I find I had been given a drug that is black boxed not to use on me; and certainly not with the mega doses of Prednisone, NSAID’s. The hospital, doctor denied what is written in my medical record from that stay. It gets worse, I contacted every watch dog healthcare agency charged with the public safety of prescription drugs given by physicians. These agencies: DHHS, CMS, QIO(quality control), the Joint Commission, State Medical Board, the hospital itself deny the drug is black boxed, further more, the board certified research physician stated there was no warnings about giving with those specific drugs concomitant. When I questioned what they used for reference, i was told he used his PDR, would not give me the date. Now, that is certainly cutting edge medical data.  These statements are in writing - the black box warnings are available at any pharmacy. All the above agencies had access to my records. I was released from the hospital with worse vitals than when I arrived - I was not particularly sick on arrival but within 24 hours of treatment with this drug - my body started burning, weak, wasting - and they still did not stop the use.

If that doesn’t tell you how insidious the collusion is in healthcare - please note that Adverse Drug Reactions(should be called poisonous, unsafe) are now the top killer of Americans. They are using drugs that have been warned against using and just refusing to report the events. So, what is reported is a fraction of what really is happening and they do not address the patients who are ‘only’ maimed, crippled and most are permanently so. I have yet to find a doctor who is aware this drug, Levaquin, is black boxed or who will look at, speak of it. My “adr’ was rather spectacular - many failures, heart, etc.

Why this is allowed to continue with no accountability is appalling. Legal malpractice suits in this area well below national average and one attorney explained why. Nothing will change until someone exposes how much real damage, deaths are happening. Those who control that information are suppressing the reality of unsafe drugs. I have this information in writing.

As I contacted each agency, they would refer me to another agency. When I completed the ‘circle’ of no intelligence, I realized they felt very safe in making these absurd statements for a reason - all employees are board certified healthcare people who you would assume have education. They do what they are told to do. They are not clueless at all. Think of all the business this one family of drugs provide to physicians who can say they are clueless.We are talking big business when you consider how vast the watchdog agencies are, the conventions, the “training”, the licensing fees are. Some are paid by our tax dollars.

We citizens have no protection whatsoever.

Please do not discount Hospital and Clinic administrators in the dark light cast on the medical profession.  One brief check into the rising paychecks of those professions will show that doctors are being squeezed from all directions (note the decreasing number of Family Physicians from the US - of course there are a lot of those immigrating to the US, but this is a middle class job that people could do here).  Doctors trained in the US incur huge medical school costs, high malpractice premiums, and administrators that will deduct money from a doctor’s paycheck if they do not perform more profitable tests on their patients. 
There are a lot of good doctors that can falsely be put under this radar that want the best for their patients.  They are told that a drug can do certain things for their patients and expect that it should do as advertised.  This is completely the fault of the FDA and shows its complicity with drug companies in allowing drug companies to advertise their drug’s effectiveness even if the evidence is fabricated and minimize the significance of the drug’s side effects.  We are protected as consumers from false advertising on the open market by the consumer protection board.  Why can’t an independent board do the same with the drug companies.  It should not be the job of the doctor to research the clinical trials of every prescription drug that they may prescribe.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Dollars for Doctors

Dollars for Doctors: How Industry Money Reaches Physicians

ProPublica is tracking the financial ties between doctors and medical companies.

The Story So Far

ProPublica is investigating the financial ties between the medical community and the drug and device industry. In October 2010, ProPublica compiled the list of payments that drug companies make to physicians and built a publicly searchable database so that patients could look up their doctors.

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