Mother Jones has some strong additional reporting on details that led to a $3 billion settlement — the largest fraud settlement ever — with GlaxoSmithKline over, among others, kickbacks, illegal marketing of drugs and encouraging state medical programs to prescribe their drugs for off-label uses.
Most interesting Arkansas angle, from Justice Department documents:
In 2006, Arkansas Medicaid restricted its coverage in off-label use of Advair by requiring that patients try another medication first. “Arkansas Medicaid determined that this restriction increased appropriate use of Advair and decreased Advair utilization by 25% without adverse impact on patient care,” the US complaint reads. GSK then allegedly gave an untold sum of campaign donation dollars to an Arkansas lawmaker who introduced legislation to get rid of the restriction. “God save political donations,” wrote one GSK employee to senior VP Stan Hull in an internal email.
Shouldn’t take too long to run this down. Among others, I’ve asked the attorney general’s office, which investigates Medicaid fraud and which proudly announced participation in the Glaxo settlement, if it had looked into this suggestion of a quid pro quo with an Arkansas lawmaker.
UPDATE: On the trail.
This doesn’t conclusively fill in the blank, but ….
In 2009, Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock introduced and passed this bill to study the effects of Medicaid rules on use of asthma medication. It did not remove the rule, but it did call for a study of the imapct of removing the limitation to which the drug company objected.
This legislation did follow not long after a July 2008 contribution of $2,000 by GlaxoSmithKline to Elliott’s state Senate campaign.
The Glaxo PAC also contributed $2,000 to her 2010 race for Congress.
UPDATE: I’ve reached both Elliott and Glaxo’s local lobbyist, who dispute any deal on the legislation. Elliott notes that she became convinced through the study her bill authorized that there wasn’t evidence sufficient to change the rule to which Glaxo objected.
Michael Mitchell, a Little Rock lawyer who lobbied for Glaxo then and now, summarizes his response to the insinuation: “Baloney.”