No Jail Time for Anyone – Devastates the ‘Corporations Are People My Friend’ Crowd
Here is the situation with respect to prescription drugs and what they can be used for. Once a drug is deemed safe and effective by the FDA for treatment of certain disorders, it can be prescribed by physicians for treating those disorders. And since it has been determined to be safe, a physician may prescribe the drug for any other application that he or she deems appropriate.
The rules for the pharmaceutical company are different. The FDA does not want companies touting their drugs for treatment of diseases or problems where there has been no evidence that the drugs are effective in those cases, even if they are deemed safe. This is a bummer for the drug companies, who could increase sales if they could just convince doctors to use the drugs for what is called ‘off label’ purposes. But they can’t.
But they do. And many times they get caught at it.
The pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories said on Monday that it had reached an agreement with the federal and nearly all state governments to pay $1.6 billion in connection with its illegal marketing of the anti-seizure drug Depakote.
They get caught because in large part this is a crime that is fairly hard to conceal.
According to the Department of Justice, Abbott admitted that from 1998 to 2006 it had “a specialized sales forces trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control ofagitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients,” even though there was no evidence that it was safe and effective for such use.
From 2001 to 2006, Abbott marketed the drug for use along with antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, even though the company’s clinical trials showed that taking Depakote wasn’t more effective than using the antipsychotic drugs.
And no, Abbott Labs is not the only company doing this sort of thing.
Last year, the British drug company GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $3 billion to settle civil and criminal investigations into its sales practices for several drugs, including thediabetes drug Avandia. In 2009, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion to settle similar charges. Several other pharmaceutical companies have also reached multimillion-dollar settlements over their practices.
And yes, criminal acts were committed.
The company will also plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge for violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding.
So for Mr. Romney and his cadre of supporters who want to go easy on corporations because they are people, here is the message. When people commit crimes that involve billion dollar amounts they go to jail, for a long time. Are you going to put anybody in jail in cases like this?