Public Citizen: Regulators Must Be Tougher Against #Pharma Fraud | Pharma Industry Regulation | Scoop.it

Stronger enforcement is needed to deter pharmaceutical manufacturers from continuing to break the law and defraud federal and state health programs.

That’s according to a new report released by Public Citizen.

The report (see here)  catalogues all major financial settlements and court judgments between pharmaceutical companies and federal and state governments from 1991 through 2015, which totaled $35.7 billion.

Of the 373 settlements over those 25 years, 140 were federal settlements totaling $31.9 billion, and 233 were state settlements totaling $3.8 billion.

A key finding is that both the number and size of settlements decreased significantly in 2014 and 2015. Just $2.4 billion in federal financial penalties were recovered in 2014-2015, less than one-third of the $8.7 billion in 2012-2013 and the lowest two-year total since 2004-2005.

There were just 20 state settlements in 2014-2015, the lowest two-year total since 2006-2007. This reflected a dramatic decrease in federal financial penalties for unlawful drug promotion and a similarly sharp decline in the number of single-state settlements stemming from overcharging government health programs.

The report explores several possible reasons for this drop in settlement activity.

The possibilities include a decline in federal enforcement; a shift in the focus of federal prosecutions away from off-label marketing and toward other forms of illegal activity, as alluded to by U.S. Department of Justice officials in 2012; changes in state Medicaid pharmaceutical reimbursement strategies; and shifts in industry marketing strategies.

“We don’t yet know why there were fewer and smaller settlements in the 2014 to 2015 period,” said Dr. Sammy Almashat, researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and lead author of the report. “But we do know that, in addition to the rarity of executive accountability, previous penalties never have been large enough to deter the most common types of pharmaceutical fraud. So it would be surprising if the industry suddenly decided, of its own accord, to comply with laws it has routinely violated for decades.”