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Judge Merrick Garland SCOTUS Nomination

Rutledge Statement on the Nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court

Wed, Mar 16, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in response to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“With the unfortunate passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the future direction of the U.S. Supreme Court is at stake,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today, President Obama has chosen to nominate Judge Merrick Garland. The President has this right, but the U.S. Senate has an equal right to advise and consent on this nomination and that right includes choosing not to act on the nomination. In the midst of a highly contested presidential election, Americans deserve their chance to weigh in on the appropriate direction for the Court, and I am optimistic that will occur in November.”

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CDC Adopting Guidelines for Prescribing Pain Medications

Rutledge Applauds CDC for Adopting Guidelines for Prescribing Pain Medications

Wed, Mar 16, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today applauded the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for acting quickly to adopt federal guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The adoption comes after Rutledge and 35 other State attorneys general in January urged the CDC to approve the proposed guidelines.

“The CDC has acted quickly so that physicians have the tools and knowledge they need to properly prescribe medication,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “There are serious dangers associated with chronic pain medications, but when prescribed effectively they can be the best treatment. However, the problem of prescription drug abuse cannot be ignored, and I will continue building on the successful State and local partnerships to increase public safety and save lives.”

According to the CDC, the U.S. is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. Increased prescribing and sales of opioids — a quadrupling since 1999 — helped create and fuel this epidemic. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States, 2016, will help primary care providers ensure the safest and most effective treatment for their patients.

Among the 12 recommendations in the guideline, three principles are key to improving patient care:

  • Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.
  • When opioids are used, the lowest possible effective dosage should be prescribed to reduce risks of opioid use disorder and overdose.
  • Providers should always exercise caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.

The CDC developed user-friendly materials to assist providers with implementing the recommendations, including a decision checklist. These materials, as well as information for patients, are available at CDC.gov.

Rutledge has been vocal about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Arkansas. Since taking office, she has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to hold Drug Take Back Days, encouraging Arkansas to clean out their medicine cabinets of unused and expired medications to be properly disposed of by law enforcement and now she offered those same drug take back services at each mobile office held throughout the State. She also partnered with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute to host the annual Prescription Drug Abuse Summit last November in which participants learned about more research and strategies to fight prescription drug misuse and abuse.

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Settlement to Resolve Kickback Allegations

Arkansas to Receive Settlement to Resolve Kickback Allegations Against a New Jersey based Pharmaceutical Company

Wed, Mar 16, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units joined the federal government to reach an agreement in principle with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company with its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, to settle allegations that the company violated the False Claims Act. Rutledge released the following statement:

“Arkansas is set to receive $15,459.81 from a multi-state settlement reached with Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. The Arkansas Medicaid Trust Fund, which incurred losses as a result of this fraud, will be reimbursed. This pharmaceutical company violated the False Claims Act by using meals and speaker program honoraria as incentives to entice physicians to prescribe the drugs Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor and Welchol.”

Daiichi Sankyo will pay the states and the federal government a total of $39 million in civil damages and penalties for Medicaid and other federally-funded health care programs.

The investigation that led to the settlement grew out of a false claims action filed by a former Daiichi Sankyo sales representative in 2010. The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that the claims were false because they resulted from kickbacks that Daiichi Sankyo provided to physicians who prescribed the drugs.

The settlement agreement reimburses the federal government and the participating states for damages that were assessed in accordance with the amounts that Daiichi Sankyo expended on each speaker program for each fiscal year. The total Medicaid portion of the settlement – state and federal – is $10 million; and the states’ share of the Medicaid recovery is $5 million. Additionally, as part of the settlement, Daiichi Sankyo has agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), which obligates Daiichi Sankyo to undertake substantial internal compliance reforms for the next five years.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are participating in the settlement. The federal settlement was announced by the Justice Department in January of this year.

Arkansas’s portion of the settlement will be placed in the Arkansas Medicaid Trust Fund.

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Rutledge to Host Youth Summit

Rutledge to Host Youth Summit

Tue, Mar 15, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is continuing her push to raise awareness of dating violence by making it the theme of a Youth Summit for seventh through 12th graders. The Youth Summit will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5 at the Alma Airedale Arena.

Former college football standout and NFL player Keith Davis will be the featured speaker with his “Just Say YES: Youth Equipped to Succeed” message. Davis, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, graduated from the University of Southern California with his team’s highest grade point average and a degree in business finance. He was the team’s leading tackler, selected to the All-American Strength Team, an All-Conference player and played in the Rose Bowl. After college, Davis signed with the New York Giants.

“I look forward to welcoming young people from all across Arkansas to the Youth Summit,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This will be an interactive, informative event that will help students in junior high and high school understand the dangers and consequences of dating violence and how to have a healthy relationship.”

Partners with the Attorney General’s office in hosting the event are Arkansas Activities Association, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Child Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.

For more information and to register for the event, contact Rachel Ellis at Rachel.Ellis@arkansasag.gov or 501-682-3645.

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Blytheville Woman Sentenced for Medicaid Fraud
Allow States to Protect Health and Safety of Women

Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Allow States to Protect the Health and Safety of Women

Wed, Mar 9, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 23 other states to file a bipartisan amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging that states continue the long-standing practice of being able to protect patients and uphold overall public health. The brief is in support of Texas House Bill 2 (HB 2), which seeks to ensure patient safety and raise the standard for care of women.

“States have a responsibility to ensure that all medical procedures, including abortions, are performed with a certain standard of care to protect the health and safety of the patient,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If the Texas law is struck down, it will put at risk the ability of states to properly protect its citizens. I am hopeful when the Court decides this case later this year it will recognize that Texas, Arkansas and all states have a legitimate interest in protecting the health of women and regulating the medical profession.”

The Texas law is not about overturning Roe v. Wade, nor is it about restricting access to abortions. Instead, it is about ensuring that if women choose to have such a procedure it be done in a safe manner. As the Attorneys General argue, “The entire premise of Petitioners’ undue burden theory is that Texas’s clinic regulations will prevent women from obtaining abortions. Yet, despite decades of those regulations, neither Petitioners nor their supporting amici provide any evidence of such a stark result. The most that they prove is that, in the wake of new state regulations, some abortion clinics close rather than adjust. They recite no evidence that such closures have prevented any women from obtaining a timely abortion.”

According to the Texas Attorney General’s office, in 2013, the Texas Legislature passed HB 2 to provide abortion patients with a higher standard of health care. The common-sense law requires the minimum standards for abortion facilities be equivalent to the minimum standards for general surgery centers (“ambulatory surgical centers”), as the Kermit Gosnell Grand Jury in Pennsylvania recommended. The law requires abortion doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges to ensure continuity of care, as recommended previously by the National Abortion Federation.

The case was argued before the Court last week, and a decision is expected in late June.

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