Doctors Wriggle Out of Lawsuits | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Doctors Wriggle Out of Lawsuits

Pharma companies dig deep into their pockets to smooth over "irregularities," while mis-prescribing MDs are hard to touch.

Image: 

Hard to pin down Thinkstock

By Jed Bickman

09/20/11

| Share

Big whistle-blowing lawsuits often highlight unethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry. But a new investigation—published by The Washington Post in collaboration with the nonprofit investigative fund ProPublica—claims they rarely stop doctors mis-prescribing meds, including notoriously addictive painkillers like oxycodone. Under federal law, drug companies may not market drugs to treat conditions other than those the FDA approves—you can’t advertise antipsychotics to treat dementia in patients who don’t have signs of schizophrenia, for example. Yet that's what Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to doing last year, settling a class-action lawsuit for $1.4 billion—it turned out that nursing homes were giving antipsychotic drugs to broad swathes of their clientele. Other lawsuits target the kickbacks that drug manufacturers give to doctors for (over)prescribing their medications: last year, Alpharma paid $42.5 million to the government to dodge a lawsuit that was set to reveal such payments for its morphine-based painkiller, Kadian. These lawsuits can result in big payoffs from drug companies, but it's much harder to hit doctors who actually mis-prescribe the drugs. Although companies can't market drugs for non-FDA-approved “off-label” use, it's quite legal for docs to prescribe off-label. ProPublica found that the doctors who are named in large lawsuits usually escape unscathed. Senator Charles E. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary committee, stated that it takes “two sides to perpetuate this fraud”—both doctors and pharma companies—and that both should be held accountable. “Otherwise, regardless of how big a civil settlement a drug company makes, the incentive to cheat the taxpayers will still be in place for those willing to take part.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv