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Drug Companies

December 30, 2012 | By Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, Los Angeles Times
Kamala Harris has a powerful tool for identifying reckless doctors, but she doesn't use it. As California's attorney general, Harris controls a database that tracks prescriptions for painkillers and other commonly abused drugs from doctors' offices to pharmacy counters and into patients' hands. The system, known as CURES, was created so physicians and pharmacists could check to see whether patients were obtaining drugs from multiple providers. Law enforcement officials and medical regulators could mine the data for a different purpose: To draw a bead on rogue doctors.
December 18, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Biotech giant Amgen Inc. pleaded guilty in federal court to improper marketing of its anemia drug Aranesp and has agreed to pay $762 million in criminal fines and civil settlements to resolve complaints from company whistle-blowers. Federal prosecutors in New York said the Thousand Oaks company was "pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety" by encouraging doctors to use its popular anemia drug for unapproved uses to boost sales and to take market share from a rival drug maker.
December 8, 2012 | David G. Savage
The U.S. Supreme Court said it would decide whether pharmacy companies violate antitrust laws -- and drive up costs to consumers -- by agreeing to let brand-name drug makers pay rivals to delay selling lower-priced generics. In the last decade, several federal courts have upheld such agreements on the grounds that they are settlements of disputes over patents. The Federal Trade Commission, however, has been challenging the so-called pay-for-delay agreements as illegally stifling competition and preserving monopolies.
November 21, 2012 | By Andrew Tangel and Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK - After building a huge stake in two drug companies, hedge fund manager Mathew Martoma told his powerful boss on a Sunday morning that they had to immediately dump their position. It was an unusual request even by the outsized standards of Wall Street, but the hedge fund quietly liquidated its $700-million position within days. Federal authorities suggested Tuesday why Martoma was in such a hurry back in 2008 - he'd allegedly gotten an illegal tip about big problems with the companies' developmental Alzheimer's drug.
September 21, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
Doctors are less likely to trust research studies performed with funding from corporate interests such as pharmaceutical companies, according to a new study. The report, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals a long-suspected bias against such research among physicians. It also demonstrates the price companies have paid for public violations of trust, including examples of data manipulation and misrepresentation of study results. In the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School asked physicians to read abstracts from studies reporting promising clinical data about a couple of different new drugs (the abstracts were fakes, written by the research team, but the doctors didn't know that)
April 13, 2012
Voluntary guidelines for pharmaceutical companies will not wean the livestock industry off its addiction to antibiotics. Yet that's what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - which has previously taken tentative steps to curb the agricultural use of antibiotics and is under a judge's order to carry out existing laws that call for limiting the overuse of two classes of antibiotics - is proposing. Obviously, the agency wants to avoid a protracted legal battle with producers, and its authority is limited by Congress' repeated refusal to act. But this latest plan falls far short of the decisive action needed to make a difference.
April 11, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it will ask livestock producers, drug companies and veterinarians to curb the use of antibiotics to promote growth in food-producing animals - a widespread practice that has been shown to create drug resistance in microbes.  The presence of such “superbugs,” as they're sometimes called, threatens public health because if they sicken humans, they can be impossible to treat....
March 22, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
Watching Alzheimer's disease steal away the memory, talents and very selves of its victims is hard enough for the people who love them. Now, a new pill formulated by a respected pharmaceutical company and approved by the Food and Drug Administration will do little to help most patients and will bring misery to some, say two medical investigators. The drug, Aricept 23 mg, is no more effective on the whole than the disappointing ones already on the market - but is more likely to cause gastrointestinal problems, wrote Drs. Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth Medical College in an article published Thursday in the medical journal BMJ. The new formulation was devised to serve commercial objectives, they say, and was approved despite a poor showing in company-sponsored tests.
February 2, 2012
Mitt versus Newt Re "Florida win won't seal race," Feb. 1 Why is Mitt Romney smiling in your front-page photograph? In order to win Florida, he apparently had to lavishly outspend the thrice-married ex-House speaker whose second wife recently went public with new details of his adultery with the lady who succeeded her. Romney's may be a victory, but it's pyrrhic at best and does not speak well for his ability to prevail going...
December 17, 2011 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Pharmacy and prescription drug management company CVS Caremark Corp. has agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle three lawsuits involving allegations that it defrauded pension systems in three states, including California's giant pension fund, attorneys said. The whistle-blower lawsuits, filed by two former CVS Caremark pharmacists, accused the company of reselling returned drugs, changing prescription orders to make them more expensive and submitting false reports about how long it took to fill prescriptions.
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