Novartis, slammed by Korean scandal, tweaks its ethics, compliance policies

FiercePharma, 15 May 2017
Author: Eric Sagonowsky
“Rocked by a corruption scandal in Korea and facing a kickbacks probe in Greece, Novartis says it’s strengthening and simplifying its global ethics and compliance approach. Last month, Korean authorities handed out a $50 million fine and suspended coverage on several Novartis meds in relation to a bribery probe in the country. Novartis employees conducted a kickbacks scheme through medical journal-sponsored meetings, with the total spent on bribes estimated to be $2.3 million, according to officials. Last year, Novartis agreed to a $25 million settlement with U.S. authorities to put to rest a bribery investigation in China.”
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The Unusual Case of Ian Paterson and Criminally Harmful Surgery

BMJ Blog, 9 May 2017
Author: Iain Brassington
“The “obscure motives” that compelled Paterson may forever remain a mystery but it is interesting that the charges against him relate only to patients he treated in his private practice. This enabled the prosecution to create a narrative that suggested that financial gain could have been the motivating factor for Paterson’s crimes. Without greed as a possible motive his actions are baffling, and the prosecution’s case, in alleging that surgery which Paterson argued was performed in the patient’s best interests actually constituted GBH or unlawful wounding, would be more challenging because of the medical context of the allegations. Importantly, the medical exception to the criminal law – the principle that consensual surgery carried out by qualified professionals is legitimate (“proper medical treatment”) – means that there is an assumption that harm caused by surgery is not a matter for the criminal law because it is a risk that we accept in order to enjoy the benefits of surgical medicine.”
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Cigarette packaging likely to remain plain

Lexology, 8 May 2017
Author: Griffith Hack
“It appears from leaked material that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has dismissed a challenge initiated by Ukraine, Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and Dominican Republic against Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws. A leaked draft of the WTO DSB’s ruling has shown that it believes Australia’s laws are a legitimate public health measure, dismissing the challenges. However, the DSB’s decision is not final.”
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Blood disaster: Families search for the truth

BBC, 10 May 2017
Source: BBC News
“Jason Evans’ father died after being infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood. Now in what is understood to be the first case of its kind, Jason is taking legal action against the government for its role in his father’s death. More than 2,000 people – mostly haemophiliacs – have died after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood treatments. The victims were infected over 25 years ago, in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.”
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Fertility regulator launches inquiry into ‘cash for eggs’ claims

The Guardian, 2 May 2017
Author: Haroon Siddique
“The fertility regulator has launched an investigation into allegations that IVF clinics are inducing women to donate eggs in return for free or discounted treatment. Women on low incomes who have healthy eggs but cannot get pregnant are being given complimentary treatment or offered a discount if they donate eggs at some clinics, which then resell them for a large profit. Egg sharing, where women receive IVF as a benefit in kind in return for donating eggs, is legal but there are strict rules on the information that should be provided to potential donors and how consent is obtained.”
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New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
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GSK must pay $3 million in generic Paxil suicide lawsuit: U.S. jury

Reuters, 20 April 2017
Authors: Nate Raymond, Barbara Grzincic
“GlaxoSmithKline(GSK.L) must pay $3 million to a woman who sued the drug company over the death of her husband, a lawyer who committed suicide after taking a generic version of the antidepressant Paxil, a U.S. jury said on Thursday. A federal judge allowed the victim’s wife to proceed against GSK because it controlled the drug’s design and label, which applied to both the brand-name and generic versions of the drug.”
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Pfizer subpoenaed in U.S. intravenous saline solution probe

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Nate Raymond, Steve Orlofsky
“Pfizer Inc has received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department in connection with an antitrust investigation focusing on drugmakers that market intravenous saline solutions. The probe comes amid a shortage of intravenous saline solutions commonly used to hydrate hospital patients that dates back to late 2013, when drug companies began notifying hospitals that they might experience delivery delays. They said that since the shortage began, prices had risen 200 percent to 300 percent.”
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