Rutledge Opens Investigation of Facebook for Antitrust ViolationsTue, Oct 22, 2019
Says, ‘Major tech platforms like Facebook have thrived on the public’s willingness to share their personal information’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a bipartisan investigation by 47 state attorneys general into Facebook for antitrust violations. The multistate investigation will concentrate on potential anticompetitive business practices stemming from Facebook’s dominance in the industry.
“Major tech platforms like Facebook have thrived on the public’s willingness to share their personal information and preferences,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This investigation is a deeper dive into the business practices used by Facebook to determine whether it has committed any violations of antitrust laws.”
In September, Attorney General Rutledge announced an antitrust investigation into whether Google conducts its business practices in accordance with State and federal antitrust laws. A bipartisan coalition of 50 attorneys general plan to collaborate with federal authorities to investigate the tech giant’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may constitute anticompetitive behavior that harms Arkansas consumers.
Attorney General Rutledge joins the bipartisan investigation being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The investigation now includes the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam, in addition to a number of other states that cannot confirm its participation in pending investigations.
Conway Eye Doctor’s Wife & Office Manager Arrested for Medicaid FraudTue, Oct 22, 2019
Suspect admitted to knowingly submitting illegal Medicaid claims
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the charge and arrest of a Conway eye doctor’s employee for stealing an estimated $600,000 from the Arkansas Medicaid Program over a four-year period.
“Medicaid funds are crucial to assist some of our most vulnerable Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The bad actors who defraud taxpayers must be held accountable.”
Karen Todd, 52, of Conway was arrested on one count of Medicaid Fraud, Class A Felony. During the time of the investigation, Todd was the office manager of Todd Eye Clinic and the wife of Dr. Charles Todd, Jr. Upon arrest, Todd admitted to purposely submitting fraudulent claims that were thousands of dollars over the actual billable amount.
The Attorney General’s office was assisted in this investigation by the Conway Police Department. The charges were filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court and will be prosecuted in cooperation with the Office of the Twentieth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews.
Medicaid fraud occurs when Medicaid providers use the program to obtain money for which they are not entitled. To report suspected fraud, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Urges DEA to Limit the Distribution of OpioidsFri, Oct 18, 2019
Demands higher standards to set manufacturing limits on prescription painkillers
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined seven states in pushing federal regulators to consider more information as they set manufacturing limits on prescription painkillers in hopes a more thorough review will lead to fewer overdose deaths.
“Opioid distributors and manufacturers have flooded Arkansas with millions of pills - 62 opioid pills for every man, woman and child in the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Limiting the excessive manufacturing and distribution of opioids is an important proactive step that will help combat this epidemic and save lives.”
Along with this effort, Rutledge has led the country with a multifaceted approach of education, prevention and litigation. In April 2018, Rutledge filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Endo for creating and fueling the epidemic that has devastated so many in the State. In April 2019, Rutledge then filed suit against distributors McKesson, AmeriSource Bergen and Cardinal, for allowing millions of opioid pills annually to be diverted to people who do not have a medical need for the drugs. Rutledge launched the Prescription for Life program, a free educational digital platform on which more than 15,000 high school students have participated throughout the State.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is required to account for illegal drug diversion by setting quotas, but the states question whether the methodology used to set next year’s manufacturing limit is enough.
The letter filed by Rutledge and colleagues late Tuesday argues DEA officials must adopt a uniform methodology for all controlled substances, do more to account for overprescribing and expand its universe of information sources.
The current data sets make accounting for diversion difficult, but argues such complexity cannot hinder progress. For instance, the letter suggests that the DEA take into greater account data from its Drug Take Back Day as evidence of overprescribing.
The states also suggest DEA officials should consider best practices developed by the medical community and State regulators, in addition to improving the usability of its reporting system and its suspicious orders database.
The DEA’s proposed limits for 2020 slash hydrocodone manufacturing by 19 percent and oxycodone by 8.8 percent in one year.
Arkansas joined the West Virginia-led filing along with attorneys general in Florida, Idaho, Louisiana and Nebraska and the governor of Kentucky.
To sign up for the Prescription Drug Abuse Summit on Nov. 14, or for more on how Attorney General Rutledge is combating this opioid epidemic, visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Read the filing at http://bit.ly/2MPGcOt.
Rutledge Announces $116.9 Million Multistate Settlement with Johnson & JohnsonThu, Oct 17, 2019
Arkansas to receive $1.86 million
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a multistate settlement requiring Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon, Inc. to pay nearly $117 million for their deceptive marketing of the transvaginal surgical mesh device. An investigation of the company found violations of state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of the device and failing to sufficiently disclose risks associated with its use. Arkansas will receive $1,855,302.53 under the settlement.
“Arkansas moms, sisters and daughters have been deceived by false claims of Johnson & Johnson, and now they must endure irrevocable damage to their bodies,” Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge said. “This settlement confirms these victims have been heard, and I will remain diligent to protect Arkansans from companies not following the law.”
The multistate investigation found the companies misrepresented or failed to adequately disclose the product’s possible side effects, including the risk of chronic pain and inflammation, mesh erosion, incontinence developing after surgery and other complications related to the implantation of the device. Evidence shows the companies were aware of the possibility for serious medical complications but did not provide sufficient warnings to consumers or surgeons who implanted the device.
Under the settlement, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $116.86 million to the 41 participating states and District of Columbia. The settlement also provides injunctive relief, requiring full disclosure of the device’s risks and accurate information on promotional material, in addition to the product’s “information for use” package inserts.
Among the specific requirements, the companies must:
- Refrain from referring to the mesh as “FDA approved” when that is not the case
- Refrain from representing in promotions that risks associated with mesh can be eliminated with surgical experience or technique alone
- Ensure that product training provided to medical professionals covers the risks associated with the mesh
- Omit claims that surgical mesh stretches after implantation, that it remains soft after implantation, that foreign body reactions are transient and that foreign body reactions “may” occur (when in fact they will occur)
- Disclose that mesh risks include: fistula formation, inflammation, as well as mesh extrusion, exposure and erosion into the vagina and other organs
- Disclose risks of tissue contraction, pain with intercourse, loss of sexual function, urge incontinence, de novo incontinence, infection following transvaginal implantation and vaginal scarring
- Disclose that risks include that revision surgeries may be necessary to treat complications, that revision surgeries may not resolve complications and that revision surgeries are also associated with a risk of adverse reactions
Joining Arkansas in this multistate settlement are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
For Arkansans who have a consumer complaint or questions please contact the office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Commends the Removal of Gates from OfficeFri, Oct 11, 2019
Says, ‘he should never hold another public office’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement on the decision by the Arkansas House of Representatives to remove Mickey Gates as a member of the General Assembly.
“The House of Representatives rightfully removed Gates today because he selfishly chose to put his colleagues and Arkansans through this costly spectacle instead of immediately resigning,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Gates lived on the taxpayers’ dime and violated their trust by not properly paying taxes, and therefore, he should never hold another public office.”
Rutledge Sues Three Online E-Cigarette Retailers for Selling to ChildrenThu, Oct 10, 2019
Says, ‘It is unacceptable for retailers to exploit our youth’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is taking legal action against three online e-cigarette retailers for violating State laws. By selling and shipping nicotine products and devices, including e-cigarettes, to Arkansas children without age verification, the companies are in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA).
“These out-of-state retailers are illegally selling vaping products online that are dangerous to Arkansas children, and it’s time to take a strong stance to stop this practice in our state,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is unacceptable for retailers to exploit our youth by selling vaping products to them illegally.”
General Rutledge filed lawsuits today against Utah-based BuyVapor.com, Arizona-based The Vape Co. and Minnesota-based Mystic Juice USA, LLC. While all three companies sold and shipped vape products to customers in Arkansas and failed to confirm the consumers’ ages, which are violations of state law, Mystic Juice also utilized eBay.com to avoid the legal-minimum-age-to-purchase requirements and used deception to bypass eBay’s own policy of not selling tobacco products on its platform. Rutledge sent a letter to eBay earlier this week demanding the removal of all electronic nicotine devices and products from its website.
Earlier this week, Rutledge issued an Enforcement Advisory to 100 online e-cigarette retailers, warning these retailers that it is illegal to sell or ship any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, to consumers in Arkansas. The advisory warns legal action if businesses are found selling to minors over the internet.
Each ADTPA violation is subject to a fine up to $10,000 per occurrence. To report online retailers in violation of ADTPA or learn more about the dangers of youth vaping, visit ArkansasAG.gov.