Articles Posted in Healthcare Policy

Photobucket PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA (May 26, 2011) – State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw will co-host Palm Beach County’s Prescription Drug Abuse and Pain Clinic Summit. The event takes place today, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 at the Clayton Hutcheson Agricultural Center.

The summit focuses on prevention of the consequences surrounding addiction and prescription drug dealing before they occur.

This is the summit’s second year and since that time the number of pain clinics dealing in the illegal prescription drug trade has dropped significantly; due in part to law enforcement’s wide-sweeping raids.

sale.jpgThe Governor of Montana, following a line of other politicians over the years, is promoting the idea of that state purchasing drugs for publicly run health care programs from Canada . However, for a number of reasons, such ideas have never gained any traction.

The position of the FDA has been rather clear, Canadian drugs are not US NDC (National Drug Code) products, and therefore are adulterated versions of the drugs they purport to be. Since the source of the drugs is not the US regulatory system, the drugs are “potentially” dangerous. As we pointed out on a previous posts (click: here and here), the actual danger was largely caused by Canadian and US drug officials themselves.

In reality, though, the name brand drugs being used by Canadians are in fact the very same drug as are offered in the United States , only in Canada the drugs are cheaper due not only market forces, but also government price controls. Americans pay more for drugs because the United States does not have any government restrictions on prices. Intellectual property rights in Canada and the US protect the right of one manufacturer to control the price of a name brand drug, therefore the price is what the market will bear; and Americans are generally willing to pay more for their name brand drugs than to allow the government to regulate commerce in the way Canada does.

back-pain.jpgWhen it comes to chronic pain, the current DEA war on pain management leads to a question: How much authority should the DEA have over the treatment of patients? According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, “If you’re thinking about getting into pain management using opioids as appropriate: DON’T. Forget what you learned in medical school – drug agents [from the DEA] now set medical standards.” For more on this click: here.

Chronic pain, pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, affects approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population, that is 76 million people, according to the National Centers For Health Statisitics. Of those that reported chronic pain, 43% reported that pain has persisted longer than a year. More than 26 million people report having persistent back pain. Ouch! (To read more on this, click: here).

The treatment options, depending on the cause of the pain involve invasive measures such as surgery and injections, however such results can be short lived. Also, physicians who practice interventional pain find it difficult to get privileges to perform services at hospitals and have very high malpractice insurance premiums. Chiropractic adjustment and physical therapy are less invasive and less expensive, but for chronic pain are also considered by many patients to be of limited use.

ca.flag.jpgIn case where it appears the governments of the Untied States and Canada to stop a practice they disfavored, created a worse problem, the originator of the Canadian internet pharmacy business model gave up his license to practice pharmacy in Manitoba, Canada after it was alleged he had been selling misbranded and counterfeit prescription drugs. The story is somewhat more complicated than that.

Prior to the passage of the Medicare Part D prescription drug act, the purchase of name brand prescription drugs from Canada was becoming a significant business. Canada has price controls on prescription drugs and a name brand medication can be purchased in Canada for a significant discount over those purchased in the United States. Seniors and uninsureds looking for cheaper drugs found access to Canadian drugs either through storefront brokers in the United States or over the internet. However, since Canadian pharmacies could not accept US physician prescriptions directly, Canadian internet pharmacies came up with a system whereby a US citizen would fax their prescription to the pharmacy, a Canadian physician working with the pharmacy would write a prescription for the same drug and the Canadian pharmacy would fill it.

One of the originators of the internet Canadian pharmacy business was Andrew Strempler, who created Mediplan Pharmacy in Canada to service US customers and Mediplan did very well for a while. However, the FDA alleged that since the drugs did not come through the US system, the purchases were unlawful and moved with varying success against the US based companies involved in the business but were unable to move against the Canadian pharmacies that were following Canadian law.

budget.jpgThe FY 2011 Budget requests a $234.6 million increase, including 708 new positions (143 agents and 157 attorneys), to restore confidence in U.S.markets, protect the federal treasury and defend the interests of the U.S. Government.

This includes an additional $96.8 million for economic fraud enforcement, which is a 23 percent increase over the FY 2010 level. This increase will continue the department’s efforts to aggressively pursue traditional law enforcement and litigation activities ranging from mortgage fraud, corporate fraud and other economic crimes, to other mission-critical activities that support the overall functioning and efficiency of the department.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) budget requests a $60.2 million increase specifically for DOJ components involved in the investigation and litigation of health care fraud cases. This increase will further the efforts of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced last year by Attorney General Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

summit.jpgHHS held a National Summit on Health Care Fraud in late January. The purpose was to bring together “leaders from the public and private sectors to identify and discuss innovative ways to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse in the U.S. health care system.” However, groups representing providers who were initially approached about participation are angry at being shut out after being told that the meeting was for law enforcement and insurance company investigators. The providers have a point. If the government truly wants to know about waste in the system, shouldn’t they be seeking input from people in the system? The providers are angry, calling the exclusion a demonstration of government incompetence.
For more, click:here.
To read the transcript of the speech made by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Summit on Health Care Fraud click: here.

By Benson Weintraub, Esq.

803695_monitor_2.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE, FL (October 25, 2008) My interest in health care fraud originated as a white collar criminal defense lawyer in the federal courts with an abiding commitment to academic excellence, particularly in the criminal justice environment.

But when the proportion of health care fraud cases in which I participated increased so significantly, this did not occur in a vacuum. So, too, was the proliferation of this type of fraud increasing in prosecution at an incalculable rate.

By Benson Weintraub, Esq.

wall_street.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE, FL (October 19, 2008) Economic prognosticators theorized a maximization of wealth through a combination of largely unregulated commercial notes and instruments including sub-prime mortgages secured or subject to credit default swaps or government backed securities; irrespective, the taxpayers were ultimately left holding the billion dollar bag while the investment banks and financial institutions profited by a billion-dollar is the federal government’s subsidies and bailout.

The global financial exchanges each sustained similarly devastating losses created by the integral linkage between foreign banks, especially the of Chinese banks and American institutions which ripped through Freddy and Fannie, largely because of a variant of [unregulated] “insurance,” e.g., credit default swaps in which the notes or “policies” were transferred anonymously connecting other holders, these institutions spiral downward when the underlying note is due or ripe for foreclosure.