Rutledge Holds 1st Rutledge Regulatory RoundtableTue, May 10, 2016
HEBER SPRINGS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today held her first Rutledge Regulatory Roundtable in Heber Springs with local business leaders to listen to their concerns about regulations, specifically those in the agriculture industry, and discuss local issues. Like last year, Rutledge intends to travel the State holding a series of roundtables to hear directly about state and federal regulations impacting Arkansans.
“Face-to-face conversations can lead to real solutions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As I have traveled Arkansas, I have learned exactly what Arkansans want and expect from government. First, people want government to get out of the way. Second – and just as important – they want the decisions that leaders make to be based on science and data, not politics. Rutledge Roundtables give Arkansans an avenue to share their concerns and open a direct line of communication between the people and their government.”
A regulatory roundtable will also be held today in Searcy.
Last year, Rutledge hosted 85 roundtables across Arkansas, including one in all 75 counties, with more than 700 participants.
Settlement Reached with Olympus America to Resolve Anti-Kickback ViolationsThu, May 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement agreement with Olympus America Inc., a Pennsylvania-based health care equipment supplier. Olympus has agreed to pay $306 million to resolve allegations of anti-kickback violations.
Rutledge joined 49 other states and the District of Columbia in resolving allegations that Olympus and certain subsidiaries paid illegal kickbacks to health care providers. The lawsuit alleged that Olympus used improper financial incentives to encourage doctors and hospital executives to buy a wide array of its endoscopes and other surgical equipment to increase sales and gain market share.
As part of the settlement, Arkansas’s Medicaid Program and the Medicaid Program Trust Fund will receive over $1 million.
“Arkansas’s health care providers should make decisions on medical devices based strictly on need, cost and value,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These choices should not be based on illegal kickbacks that sway doctors and hospitals with lavish vacations and free items. Patients deserve access to good, affordable care, not inflated prices based on bad deals.”
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units Team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with Olympus on behalf of the states and included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of California, Delaware, Indiana, New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Rutledge: State Receives $49 Million in Tobacco Settlement FundsWed, May 4, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2016 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. In 1998, 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions entered into a historic, multibillion dollar agreement to settle consumer protection lawsuits filed by the states for the costs that they had incurred for treating the negative health effects of smoking.
“This settlement was entered into years ago, but it is critical that I continue to enforce the terms of the agreement with the various tobacco companies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This money will be used by the State to improve the overall health of Arkansas residents, fund smoking cessation programs and conduct health care research. A large portion of this money will also go to help fund the Arkansas Medicaid program, which is vital for some of our state’s families and children.”
This year’s disbursement of $49,659,216 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $896,732,626.
This agreement, referred to as the MSA, imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies. In addition, the MSA requires the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states. Arkansas received about $1.6 billion from the settlement, a portion of which is paid yearly by the settling tobacco companies.
The Attorney General is charged with enforcing the tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco wholesalers and manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.
In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the funds received under the settlement are used. MSA payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments.
A number of programs are supported through the fund, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.
Settlement Reached to Resolve Rebate Program ReimbursementsFri, Apr 29, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement agreement with Wyeth, a Delaware pharmaceutical corporation with its headquarters in Madison, New Jersey. Wyeth is a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. Wyeth and Pfizer have agreed to pay a total $784.6 million to the federal and the individual states’ Medicaid programs.
Rutledge joined 34 other states and the District of Columbia in resolving allegations that Wyeth knowingly underpaid rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program for the sales of Protonix Oral and Protonix IV between 2001 and 2006.
“Arkansas’s Medicaid Program and the Medicaid Program Trust Fund will receive over $3 million from the multi-state settlement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The unacceptable actions of this pharmaceutical company put additional financial stress on the Medicaid program by not providing the agreed upon ‘best price’ rebate.”
The Medicaid Drug Rebate Program requires participating pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay quarterly rebates to state Medicaid programs for each of its drugs sold to pharmacies that were reimbursed by Medicaid. The quarterly rebate was determined from each pharmaceutical manufacturer’s reported “best price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter.
The settlement stems from two whistleblower lawsuits, U.S., al., ex rel. Kieff v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and U.S., et al., ex rel. William St. John LaCorte v. Wyeth, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The lawsuits alleged that Wyeth bundled medications but failed to properly report the sales to the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, therefore underpaid Medicaid Drug Rebates for the two medications.
The state settlements were negotiated by attorneys general in Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina, working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rutledge Participates in Arkansas Supreme Court’s Appeals on WheelsThu, Apr 28, 2016
BATESVILLE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today, in her hometown, participated in the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Appeals on Wheels. Appeals on Wheels is a Supreme Court outreach program designed to educate students about their state government. Rutledge conducted the oral argument in Robert R. Friar v. State.
“Appeals on Wheels is a wonderful program that allows Arkansans to watch oral arguments in person and learn more about the judiciary branch and the appellate process,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It was an honor for me to appear before the state’s highest court and to argue this case in my hometown of Batesville. I commend the justices for continuing this important program, and I hope more Arkansans will take advantage of witnessing this process in the future.”
Twice a year, the Court travels the state to hold oral argument outside Little Rock. Local students from middle school through college are invited to attend an oral argument and are well prepared to watch the proceedings, having previously received facts about the case to be argued.
Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution, adopted by a vote of the people in 2000, provides that the Supreme Court may meet at such times and places as designated by the court.
Rutledge, a native of Batesville, attended Southside Public Schools and was sworn in as an attorney by her father, then a circuit judge, Keith Rutledge on Aug. 27, 2001, at the Independence County Courthouse in Batesville.
Rutledge Calls on Arkansans to Clean Out Medicine Cabinets, Participate in Prescription Drug Take Back DayWed, Apr 27, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is calling on Arkansans to make plans to participate in the upcoming National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. More than 160 collection sites will accept unwanted or expired medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.
“There is a prescription drug abuse epidemic in this country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Sadly, most abuse begins right at home -- from a medicine cabinet. Arkansans have an opportunity to protect their loved ones by cleaning out old, expired medications and properly disposing of them at a Drug Take Back collection site this Saturday.”
A complete list of Take Back Day collection sites, as well as year-round collection sites, is available at artakeback.org. Authorities will collect prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers and medicine samples.
Rutledge is partnering on Take Back Day with the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, Office of the State Drug Director, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and more than 120 law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers who comprise the Arkansas Prescription Drug Coalition.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Take Back events nationally have taken more than 2,803 tons of prescription medications out of circulation. Since the program began in 2010, 81 tons of medication has been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 226 million individual pills. Arkansas ranks third nationally in pounds collected per person.
In January, Rutledge began partnering with local law enforcement agencies to collect prescription drugs at each Attorney General Mobile Office and last week announced that more than 200 pounds had been collected at 25 mobile office locations around the State. Local officers are present at all mobile office stops to ensure the medications are safely disposed. This initiative provides Arkansans with another opportunity to discard their unneeded medications in their own community in addition to drop-off sites already available at many local law enforcement agencies.