Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Serono Pleads Guilty

From the Boston Globe, pharmaceutical manufacturer Serono SA will pay $704 million to settle civil and criminal charges. The company's Serono Labs Ltd subsidiary in Massachusetts agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to market the drug Serostim by "supplying doctors diagnostic software that was not fully approved by the [US] Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The software, prosecutors said, led to an increase in deman for the drug...." Serostim is an injectable version of human growth hormone approved for the wasting syndrome of AIDS. According to the Globe, "Serono violated federal laws that prohibit companies from making false claims about their products and from offering bribes to win government business such as drug sales whose costs are covered by the federal government."
Michael J. Sullivan, US attorney for Massachusetts, stated, "the pharmaceutical industry will not be allowed to benefit from the criminal misconduct such as that in which Serono engaged, putting patients' best interests second to profits."
The Serono general counsel, of course, said "we are pleased to put the matter behind us." There was nothing in the Globe story to suggest any individuals would pay any penalty for their previous actions.
Conspiracy, false claims, bribery ... just another day at the office here in the dysfunctional world of US health care.
This is now one of very many examples we have posted on Health Care Renewal, just in the last 10 months, of mismanagement and criminal misconduct by leaders of a wide variety of US health care organizations. This has to be part of the explanation of why US health care keeps costing more, becomes less accessible and fails to improve quality, while health care professionals become more demoralized. But where is the outrage?

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