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Two Companies Held Accountable for Theft

Rutledge Holds Two Companies Accountable for Theft from the Arkansas Medicaid Program

Thu, Nov 5, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Arkansas has joined with other States and the federal government to settle allegations that AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and Cephalon Inc. overcharged State Medicaid programs, including Arkansas, for medications.

AstraZeneca, a London and Delaware-based pharmaceutical manufacturer, has paid the States and the federal government $46.5 million to resolve allegations against the company. Cephalon, a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., has paid the States and the federal government $7.5 million to settle similar allegations.

“These companies stole money that was rightly owed to the Arkansas Medicaid program through the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The fraud committed caused the State Medicaid programs to overpay for drugs. These actions were inappropriate, and today these companies are being held accountable for their deceit.”

As part of the settlement, Arkansas will receive almost $134,000 in restitution and other recovery.

These settlements resolve allegations that AstraZeneca and Cephalon underpaid drug rebates owed to the States. Under a federal law, drug manufacturers must periodically return a portion of the amount paid by State Medicaid programs for the manufacturers’ drugs. The rebate program is designed to ensure that States pay competitive prices for drugs, and the rebates for a manufacturer’s drugs are calculated based on a percentage of the average prices drug wholesalers pay. The greater the average price reported by the manufacturer, the greater the rebate the manufacturer must pay for that drug.

The investigation resulted from action filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the federal False Claims Act and various State false claims statutes.

The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that AstraZeneca and Cephalon improperly treated certain fees paid to wholesalers as “discounts,” and the effect of this accounting practice was to falsely decrease the average price the companies reported to the federal government, improperly decreasing the rebates paid to the States.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the investigation, conducted the settlement negotiations with AstraZeneca and Cephalon on behalf of the States and included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the States of Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and South Carolina.

Drug Abuse Summit Held

Prescription Drug Abuse Summit Held in Hot Springs

Tue, Nov 3, 2015

HOT SPRINGS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today, along with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute, a division of the University of Arkansas System, hosted the fourth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The Summit serves as a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators, and gives an opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment.

“Nearly 44,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, with more than half of those because of abuse of prescription drugs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unfortunately, Arkansas has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abusers. This is a major problem that cannot be addressed unless we all work together, which is why I am proud to help host this important Summit today and welcome my friend and colleague from Indiana, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, to share his insight on this topic.”

Opioid addiction and overdose has gripped our nation. People from every state, every community and all walks of life are feeling the pain of this crisis,” said Attorney General Zoeller. “In my home State of Indiana this year, we felt this pain all too acutely when faced with the first HIV outbreak linked to intravenous opioid abuse. This public health emergency and years of work on our Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force have underscored the need for collaboration among policy makers, law enforcement and the medical community. The good work by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge developing this type of collaboration should give hope to Arkansans that they can make a difference in fighting this epidemic.”

The event began this morning with breakout sessions to discuss resources available in Arkansas for prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment.

Rutledge hosted the luncheon, which included the keynote address from Zoeller, who is serving his second term as Indiana’s 42nd Attorney General. Zoeller created and serves as co-chair of Indiana's Prescription Drug Task Force, is a member of the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana, supports the expansion of School Resource Officers and serves as the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee co-chairman. A priority of the Task Force is to advance legislation to help combat prescription drug misuse and diversion. Several Task Force accomplishments include its partnership with the Indianapolis Colts to heighten awareness of this epidemic; the launch of its “Train the Trainer” public outreach program; the free online course titled “The Opioid Epidemic and Indiana's Opioid Prescribing Law;” drug take back events; and providing more than 85 outreach seminars/webinars presented to prescribers statewide since the implementation of the opioid prescribing laws.

The afternoon session includes a presentation from Lt. Patrick Glynn with the Quincy Police Department in Massachusetts. Glynn will speak about the successes his department has had in utilizing the drug naloxone to assist individuals experiencing opioid overdose.

Additional Summit partners include the Arkansas Alcohol Drug Coordinating Council; Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health; Arkansas Medical Board; Arkansas National Guard Counterdrug Program; Arkansas Nursing Board; Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program; Arkansas Prevention Network; Benton Police Department; Delta Regional Authority; FBI National Academy – Arkansas Chapter; Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas; National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Settlement Reached to Resolve Kickback Allegations

Settlement Reached to Resolve Kickback Allegations Against a Pharmaceutical Company

Tue, Nov 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Arkansas, along with all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the federal government have reached a $102 million settlement with Warner Chilcott PLC, a pharmaceutical company based in Ireland with U.S. headquarters in New Jersey.

The settlement resolves civil and criminal allegations that the company paid kickbacks to induce prescriptions of nine of its drugs and falsified health program coverage paperwork to ensure federal and State reimbursement, a violation of the False Claims Act.

“Arkansas will receive $129,923.34 from the multi-state settlement reached with Warner Chilcott,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The actions of this pharmaceutical company put patients at risk by encouraging doctors to prescribe their medications, in exchange for promotional speaking fees, honoraria and meals.”

Warner Chilcott violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to doctors for prescribing Actonel, Asacol, Asacol HD, Atelvia, Doryx, Enablex, Estrace, Loestrin 24 Fe or Lo Loestrin.

The total Medicaid portion of the settlement is $10.6 million. Warner Chilcott will be permanently excluded from the Medicaid, Medicare and other federal health care programs, and the company has pleaded guilty to one felony count that alleged health care fraud.

ICYMI: One Victim is Too Many

ICYMI: One Victim is Too Many

Thu, Oct 29, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The piece detailed actions Rutledge intends to take to raise awareness of and bring an end to domestic violence and sexual assault.

Brutal, shocking, terrible – three words to describe what Sheila from Harrison suffered. It is a tragic, all too common story that needs to be shared to help combat a growing crisis.

After years of violence, ridicule and living in constant fear for her life, Sheila bravely separated from her husband in an attempt to bring stability to her home and create a better life for her 13-year-old son. Sheila obtained an order of protection against her husband, but the separation brought more chaos. Over the next several weeks, Sheila was forced to call the police more than 15 times as her husband tormented her and their son. On Christmas Eve, things took a dangerous turn when Sheila’s husband returned to their home with a rifle. While her son escaped to safety and called the police, Sheila courageously confronted her husband once again. Tragically, Sheila’s husband fatally shot her before turning the gun on himself.

Sheila was one of nine confirmed homicides that were a result of domestic violence in Arkansas last year.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as Arkansas Attorney General, I am making a commitment to take action on behalf of victims like Sheila. While Arkansas is blessed with a network of prevention advocates, committed law enforcement officials and vocal legislators, who work tirelessly to help strengthen and empower victims of domestic violence, far too many incidents of domestic violence are unreported to local law enforcement. One in four women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. These are inexcusable acts, and even one victim of domestic violence or sexual assault is one too many.

Law enforcement officers are now required to provide “Laura’s Card” to domestic violence victims and their families as a means of providing them with information about available State and local resources. I strongly believe that “Laura’s Card” will be a life-saving resource for those seeking help, and I am committed to working with stakeholders to continue finding ways to make it a valuable tool to help victims and law enforcement by providing the card for Arkansas law enforcement agencies and domestic violence prevention advocates.

It is also important that we teach Arkansas's youth about creating healthy relationships and give them tips to avoid unhealthy and potentially destructive ones. We know that adult domestic violence and sexual assault often begin as teen dating violence. We need to help youth recognize that violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over his or her dating partner.

As part of my commitment, the Attorney General’s office will establish an ongoing initiative to collaborate with educators and the Arkansas Department of Education. One of the first steps in this initiative will be regional “train the trainer” programs. By starting in schools, my office will help educators to fulfill the requirement of a new law, which requires Arkansas health teachers to provide dating violence awareness instruction in grades 7 through 12, and provide schools with the proper tools and materials to educate young people about warning signs and techniques to end dating abuse. Teaching teenagers how to handle dating violence and to create healthy relationships will go a long way in helping curb the constant cycle of teen dating violence leading to domestic violence.

But this is only the beginning of my commitment to using the resources of my office to end this terrible crisis in our State.

In the last decade, Arkansas has consistently ranked in or near the top 10 States with the highest incidence of domestic violence homicides. My goal is to change that. Arkansas youth will be taught how to have healthy relationships, victims of domestic violence will be provided resources to find the help they need and those who commit domestic violence acts will know that their actions will not be tolerated.

I ask that you join me in helping to share these messages about warning signs of dating violence with young people and advocate for Arkansans in domestic violence circumstances so that those like Sheila’s son do not have to grow up without a loving mom anymore.

Challenge to the EPA’s Ozone Rule

Rutledge Joins Challenge to the EPA’s Ozone Rule

Wed, Oct 28, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule that will lower the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.

“The current standard of 75 parts per billion was set in 2008 and continues to be protective of human health and the environment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Lowering the standard would have a detrimental effect on future economic growth in States like Arkansas and others across the country. I am proud to join with other attorneys general to protect our States from the financial strain of this new rule.”

In March, Attorney General Rutledge joined with 13 other States in submitting comments in a letter to the EPA explaining the harmful, negative impact the rule would have on States across the country. Attorney General Rutledge also filed her own comment letter criticizing the proposed rule.

Rutledge pointed out in the letter that while the Clean Air Act does require the EPA to review the standards every five years, the law does not require the standard be lowered every time it is reviewed.

“So long as the standard is protective of human health and the environment, it can remain unchanged,” Attorney General Rutledge wrote.

Arkansas has joined Arizona, North Dakota, Oklahoma and the New Mexico Environmental Department in this lawsuit.

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