Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Boehringer Ingelheim PharmaceuticalsThu, Dec 21, 2017
Says, ‘Arkansans should be able to trust that the medications they are being prescribed will help cure their ailments’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement, along with attorneys general from all other states and the District of Columbia, with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI). The settlement ends a multistate investigation into BIPI’s alleged off-label marketing, deceptive and misleading representations made in its promotion of four of its prescription drugs: Micardis®, Aggrenox®, Atrovent®, and Combivent®.
“Arkansans should be able to trust that the medications they are being prescribed will help cure their ailments,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But the deceptive advertising practices of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals calls those prescriptions into question and puts Arkansans at risk of taking medications that will not help them.”
Arkansas will receive $175,298.58 of the $13.5 million settlement, which will be deposited into the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund. The settlement resolves allegations that BIPI engaged in a course of trade or commerce that constitutes unfair, deceptive, or misleading practices, by making misrepresentations about the above-mentioned prescription drugs and by representing that the prescription drugs had sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities that they did not have. Specifically, the States allege BIPI: (1) misrepresented that its antiplatelet drug, Aggrenox®, was effective for many conditions “below the neck,” such as heart attacks and congestive heart failure, and that it was superior to Plavix® without evidence to substantiate that claim; (2) misrepresented that Micardis® protected patients from early morning strokes and heart attacks and treated metabolic syndrome; (3) misrepresented that Combivent® could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and (4) falsely stated that Atrovent® and Combivent® could be used at doses that exceeded the maximum dosage recommendation in the product labeling and that they were essential for treatment of COPD.
The Consent Judgment requires BIPI to ensure that its marketing and promotional practices do not unlawfully promote these prescription drug products. Specifically, BIPI will:
· Limit product sampling of the four drugs to health care providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product labeling;
· Refrain from offering financial incentives for sales that may indicate off-label use of any of the four drugs;
· Ensure clinically relevant information is provided in an unbiased manner that is distinct from promotional materials; and
· Provide that requests for off-label information regarding any of the four drugs are referred to BIPI’s Medical Division.
Kansas and Pennsylvania led the Executive Committee, which also includes Attorneys General from Arizona, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia are participating in the settlement.
Rutledge Statement on Success of President Trump’s 1-in 2-out Executive OrderThu, Dec 14, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement after President Donald J. Trump announced that the administration has exceeded its promise to eliminate two existing regulations for each new one.
“Today’s announcement by the administration shows President Trump’s commitment to undoing unlawful and unnecessary overregulation that has come out of Washington over the last several years,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Regulations are rarely eliminated and their burden is largely carried by the states. The President’s order has successfully lifted numerous unnecessary and overreaching burdens off of the backs of job creators across America.”
Attorney General Rutledge joined 13 other states in filing an amicus brief in May in the U.S. District Court for District Columbia in support of President Trumps January executive order.
Rutledge Launches Prescription for Life in Academies of West MemphisTue, Dec 12, 2017
First school in eastern Arkansas to use curriculum
WEST MEMPHIS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was joined by Walmart today to continue the launch of her first-in-the-nation education initiative called “Prescription for Life” at Academies of West Memphis. Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. Walmart officials attended the West Memphis event in support of Prescription for Life as part of the retailer’s plans to expand its commitment to prescription drug education in Arkansas and other states in the coming months.
Academies of West Memphis is the 26th Arkansas high school to adopt the curriculum with more than 1,300 students using the program to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse. Prescription for Life comes at no cost to participating schools in Arkansas.
Arkansas currently ranks highest, per capita, in misuse of prescription drugs by those 13 to 17 years old.
“By bringing Prescription for Life to Academies of West Memphis, teachers and administrators are showing a commitment to tackling the opioid epidemic and setting an example for others to follow,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is the first in the nation to launch such an educational program, and it is my goal that it will become a model for other states that will no doubt help save lives.”
In addition to Walmart, Rutledge was joined by U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland in observing a class of students going through the 30-minute course, which was followed up with a post-assessment survey to measure changes in students’ attitudes and behavior.
“The health and safety of our patients is a critical priority and therefore Walmart is committed to be part of the solution to the nation’s opioid epidemic,” Dr. Lisa Smith, a pharmacist and Walmart Regional Health and Wellness Director said. “We believe education on prescription drug abuse is a key part of the solution we are proud to help fund this program that will teach Arkansas school children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.”
“We are proud to partner with Attorney General Rutledge in our efforts to curb the increasing opioid epidemic in our state,” Hiland said. “President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have made it clear that the reduction in opioid addiction and crimes related to the spread of opioid-related drugs is a top priority for federal law enforcement across the nation.”
Using an evidence-based public health approach, the digital course empowers high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.
The self-paced modular course uses video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs.
Educators from the Attorney General’s office are also available to conduct teacher in-service trainings in person and through webcasts and give presentations to parent and community groups throughout the State about how to talk with young people about risks associated with opioid use and how to recognize signs that their loved ones are abusing drugs.
The curriculum is part of the Attorney General’s already robust prescription drug abuse prevention initiative. During 2016, more than 330 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas and over 160 pounds have been collected since the beginning of 2017.
Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Arkansas, increasing from 287 in 2015 to 335 in 2016, according to data from the State Crime Lab. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that between 59,000 and 65,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, up from 52,404 in 2015 and double the death rate a decade ago. That is more than the number of deaths from car accidents in 2016. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of drug overdose deaths – six out of 10 – involve an opioid.
Find more information about the program and how to bring it to schools or other settings at ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Statement on Governor Hutchinson’s Birth Certificate DirectiveFri, Dec 8, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement after Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a directive to the Arkansas Department of Health regarding the issuance of birth certificates.
“Governor Hutchinson’s directive to the Health Department to issue birth certificates to same sex couples is consistent with the agreement the parties in litigation submitted earlier this week. Judge Fox has been preventing this agreement from becoming effective and we hope he will accept this reasonable solution. It is important to the people of Arkansas that birth certificates continue to be available, and the United States Supreme Court has required equal treatment in issuing them.”
Attorney General’s Office Holds Office Hours in All 75 Counties for Third Year in a RowThu, Dec 7, 2017
Staff met with nearly 1,000 Arkansans
SALEM – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that her office has held office hours once again in 75 counties, marking the third consecutive year the office has reached this milestone.
“The mobile office initiative began as a way to reach consumers where they live,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important that Arkansans know they do not have to drive to downtown Little Rock to file a consumer complaint or learn more about the diversity of services we provide. The expansion of the initiative to include prescription drug take backs and presentations on common scams and internet safety has made an impact protecting Arkansans statewide.”
In 2017, nearly 1,000 Arkansans have visited an Attorney General Mobile Office.
Mobile offices provide a location to personally assist consumers in filing consumer complaints and answer questions about the full range of services provided by the Attorney General’s office.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in May 2015 so that her office and staff would be accessible to everyone, not just those who call the capital city home. After the success of the initiative in 2015, Rutledge expanded the services offered at mobile offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. The office partners with local law enforcement agencies across the State to handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Since the addition of this service, the boxes have allowed authorities to properly dispose of nearly 200 pounds of old or unused medications.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
Rutledge Announces Phillips County Man Sentenced for Medicaid FraudThu, Dec 7, 2017
Says, ‘Brett Ford scammed an important program’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Helena-West Helena man for Medicaid fraud. Brett Ford pleaded no contest in Pulaski County District Court and must pay $933.12 in fines to the General Fund to the State of Arkansas and $311.04 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Investigators and attorneys at the Attorney General’s office continue to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Brett Ford scammed an important program, which is relied on by some of the most vulnerable Arkansans. I will continue to make it a top priority of my office to stop this type of fraud.”
Ford, 35, of Helena-West Helena pleaded no contest to one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class A misdemeanor for billing for services during the time that the Medicaid recipient was hospitalized in August 2015.
This case was referred to the MFCU by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and was prosecuted in cooperation with the Office of the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, complete the online form at ArkansasAG.gov, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email email@example.com.