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Whistleblowers Reveal Over-Medicating For Profit Scam

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Message Evelyn Pringle
In Pennsylvania, Whistleblower, Dr Kruszewski, discovered cases where adults and children in state care were prescribed as many as 5 psychiatric drugs at the same time. When he went to his superiors to report the over-prescribing and warned of the potential liability to the state if it was allowed to continue, he was told "it is none of your business."

According to Dr Kruszewski, it was polypharmacy at its worst. "They were putting almost all the patients on the same concoction of antipsychotic and antiseizure drugs," he reports
But the discovery he found most disturbing was that many of the patients taking the drugs had never had seizures and had never been psychotic.

The fact is that drug companies are making a fortune off drugging patients who are covered by tax payer funded government programs. The drug pushing racked begins with preferred drug lists maintained in most states. Once a drug is added to the list, it is prescribed as a first line of treatment for all people in state run institutions and all patients in the general population who are covered by programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

The lists represent a goldmine to drug companies. For instance, if Eli Lilly's one antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, was to be removed from the preferred drug list in Florida, the company would lose $70 million annually, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Vol 26 No 38 (2005)

In 2004, Lilly billed Florida Medicaid over $20 per pill for Zyprexa according to a Presentation to Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee on January 13, 2005.

Pharmaceutical companies will go to any lengths to get their drugs added to the lists, including the use of financial incentives to influence state officials and policy makers involved in compiling and maintaining the lists.

Whistleblower Allen Jones, was an Investigator in the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, Bureau of Special Investigations, when he discovered drug company money was being used to influence state officials and policy makers when the preferred drug list was being implemented in that state.

To put the amount of money involved in perspective, the drug Zyprexa is prescribed for schizophrenia, and according to Mr Jones' estimates, Pennsylvania has approximately 9,000 schizophrenics in state run prisons and mental hospitals on any given date.

"And based on the average length of stay, an additional 4,000 patients move through the system each year resulting in the potential recruitment of 13,000 customers, worth about $6,000 each per year," he reports.

"Once these folks left institutions with prescriptions in hand," Mr Jones adds, "many are supported through Medicaid."

During his investigation, when examining the payment of money to state employees, Mr Jones said, "I began to look at the overall issue of Pharma marketing and immediately became alarmed that tactics used in marketing to the private sector were being replicated with state employees."

He was suspicions about the drugs on the list because: (1) the recommended drugs were exclusively new, patented and expensive; (2) they were selected by expert consensus of persons with financial ties to Pharma; and (3) claims of increased efficacy and safety by drug companies and state employees involved in the scam were contradicted by scientific studies.

"These new "miracle" drugs did not live up to their hype," Mr Jones said, "they have proven to no better than generics."

"Most importantly," he explained, "most of the new drugs have been found to cause serious, even fatal side-effects, particularly in children."

"It is a statistical certainty," he added, "that many lives have been lost and many others irreparably damaged."

During his investigation Mr Jones discovered an off the record account used to funnel drug company money to state officials and policy makers who were being treated to lavish meals and expensive travel and were receiving consultant fees and honorariums.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.
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