Drug Company Fined MoreThan $500 Million For Inflating Drug Prices, Inappropriate Marketing

The WSJ Health Blog reports that Bristol-Myers Squibb has been fined for artificially inflating the prices of its drugs, as well paying kickbacks to doctors and promoting its anti-psychotic drug Abilify for unapproved uses.

Given all the recent attention to industry money and off-label uses of atypical antipsychotics, we were particularly struck by the Abilify issue. The drug is approved only for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults, but the Department of Justice accused the company of promoting its use for children and for elderly patients with dementia.

According to the Department of Justice, BMS created a special sales force specifically to target nursing homes. It’s unfortunate for those patients that the drug carries a warning of increased death among elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis who are treated with atypical antipsychotics.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Fined Again [WSJ Health Blog]

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  1. HaloZero says:

    Why do I think that they probably made way more than that in profits by the time they were caught.

  2. stinerman says:

    @HaloZero:
    Exactly. If the penalty doesn’t outweigh the profit gained through these tactics, then it isn’t much of a penalty. It just becomes a cost of doing business.

  3. othium says:

    It’s a pretty sad situation. I have a client who is prescribed anti-psychotic medication for off-label use by his doctor. It has many side effects that are harmful to him and I let his mother know about it. She trusts the doctor 100% and is unwilling to look at alternatives. It drives me crazy when I see people being treated by doctors maybe once or twice a year and loaded up on medications they don’t need, just because it will keep them quiet. Unfortunately that’s the way the system works if the person is under Medical Assistance. They get a cursory examination and a daily regimen of drugs that are difficult to change.

    Some of my clients can make their own decisions and I encourage them to read up on all the possible side effects of a medication before taking it when they are prescribed one by a doctor. Some have refused after finding out some not-sogood information and asked for an alternative instead. This seems to anger the docs and they get on the phone and complain to my boss. This has made me the target of several meetings with my management staff. Luckily I have a good boss who believes that we (Personal Care Attendants) need to be advocates for those we serve.

  4. othium says:

    Sorry about the long post. I just wondered if there were some sort of “kick-backs” that doctors get for prescribing certain drugs. Makes me wonder…

  5. bohemian says:

    Of course doctors get kickbacks. There were examples of this in the news a few years ago about doctors getting extravagant dinners, golf outings, trips from drug companies.

    In light of recent news that drug companies are also tracking the actual prescriptions filled by patients based on the doctor who wrote them someone really needs to put a stop to this.

  6. Hambriq says:

    Bristol-Myers Squibb is the same company that got fined $150 million for accounting fraud and pseudo-legally renigged on a business partnership and then lobbied to get the generic version of Plavix removed from the market.

    They’re the type of “Big Pharma” think about when they talk about “Big Pharma”.

  7. Hambriq says:

    Of course, it’s also a shame that they’re one of the leading producers of cancer medications in the world. It’s always a trade off.

  8. Ncisfan says:

    If BMS (along with Norvartis ,Pfizer & Lilly ) keeps pulling this shit more people are gonna die, and the Government is going to have hell to pay when people find out that the FDA and FTC were in bed with them (big Pharma) all along. something needs to be done before it gets that ^ bad…. any suggestions?

  9. infinitysnake says:

    Funny, I had my son at his doc’s office last week, and a rep was there…she had pill samples spread all over a table where children were playing- and paying no attention, because I had them halfway to the receptioon desk before she noticed and claimed them.

  10. Hambriq says:

    @Ncisfan:

    Zzzz. Wake me up when you say something of substance.

  11. brennie says:

    Hambriq, Let me get this straight, you piss on someone for stating the obvious when you just did it twice?

  12. Ncisfan says:

    @brennie: thank you

  13. Hambriq says:

    Oh hey there, Brennie. I see you have taken a break from your usual habit of inane comments and worthless additions to posts to… make an inane comment and a worthless addition to a post.

    I’m not pissing on him for stating the “obvious”. Unless by “obvious”, you meant “asinine”, “inane”, or “ridiculous.” Yes, Bristol-Myers is a pretty shady company. But last time I checked, no one died from taking Abilify where it’s not indicated… Oh yes, and apparently “Norvartis” [sic] is killing people, too. And somehow the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, is involved with all of this, too?

    What’s next, the Jews are conspiring with the government to rebuild the Covenant of Zion? The CIA is in bed with the NSA to form a secret cabal of Illuminatus? Let’s keep the foolish conspiracy theories and groundless finger-pointing where they belong: talk radio and badly designed websites.

    Being suspicious of Big Pharma certainly has its place. But this takes it to the next level. The very fact that you would call Ncisfan’s post “stating the obvious” is a joke. It gives everyone else who has a legitimate beef with Big Pharma a bad name; it puts them in the same class with baseless yahoos like yourself and Ncisfan.

  14. rmz says:

    Attention all: please stop parroting the phrase “Big Pharma” (or “Big Oil”, or “Big Tobacco”) because it makes you look like you can’t think for yourself. There are lots of labels to use without resorting to over-politicized nomenclature that conjures up images of bigwigs sitting around a conference table, wearing monocles and laughing while counting piles of money.

    Granted, that very much may be the case, but at least don’t use a name just because you heard all the Cool Indie Activists on NPR using it, yes?

  15. brennie says:

    yeah, I guess I do amuse myself from time to time pinning tails on asses, but in this case it’s just too easy. Four paragraghs, hambriq? rub some dirt in it and move on. Although I did like the ‘baseless yahoos’ part. That’s actually pretty funny.

  16. royal72 says:

    legal or otherwise, i’ve got two words for you “drug dealers”.

  17. Hambriq says:

    @brennie: First class response. All style, no substance. I dig.

    @royal72: Yup. And proud of it.

  18. Hambriq says:

    @rmz:

    Obviously, you have no idea how Big Pharma actually works. Why, yesterday, I was in a meeting with my friends Niles Pennyweather, Reginald Forsythe and Jareth Cunningham, discussing all the things we love in the world. Like money. Beautiful money. Sweet precious money.