To illustrate just how much control the pharmaceutical industry wields over the US government, Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, the subsidiary of Novelion Therapeutics, Inc. was caught illegally obtaining patient data from children and not a single employee from the company will go to jail.
The company was in direct violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the only person facing consequences is the doctor who does not have the millions of dollars to pay off the state.
Dr. Eduardo Montana, 55, pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge that he wrongfully disclosed patients’ individual identifiable health information. He faces a year in prison, but he will likely get probation.
Contrast this with the “punishment” of Novelion and the corruption rife within the state is exposed as they merely paid the government $40 million to look the other way.
Aside from illegally obtaining the data on hundreds of children, the reason they did so was insidious. Again, however, no one will go to jail.
Aegerion was obtaining this data so they could figure out a way to push their drug Juxatipid—used for lowering cholesterol in adults—on children who did not even need it.
As Reuters reports, according to prosecutors, after Aegerion in 2012 received regulatory approval to market Juxtapid for treating high cholesterol in adults with a rare genetic disease, the drugmaker promoted it for use by patients who lacked the condition.
The company was set to make insane profits off the sale of Juxatipid to children who didn’t need it as the cost of the drug is roughly $330,000 a year per patient.
Not only did Montana hand over data on child patients, but eventually, according to prosecutors, Aegerion would have direct access to his entire electronic medical record system to pull information on anyone they wanted.
A memorandum and order statement from US Federal Judge William G. Young last November even addressed the criminality behind Aegerion’s actions but, again, no one went to jail.
“At market launch in January 2013, Juxtapid cost roughly $295,000 per patient per year. The annual cost of Juxtapid later increased to over $330,000 per patient per year,” Young stated.
“Aegerion engaged in a series of unfair and deceptive acts, including outright fraud, which pervaded corporate management, all designed to increase the use of Juxtapid in circumstances where such treatment was not medically indicated. Aegerion wrongfully received a great deal of money from this corporate criminal conduct. Still more important, it appears that Aegerion knowingly induced the prescription of Juxtapid to many patients for which it would do no good, thus crowding out more promising therapies,” he continued.
The pharmaceutical company was found guilty of illegally conspiring to surreptitiously gather data on hundreds of children—in defiance of HIPAA—so they could then use this data to push a drug they sell for $330,000 a year on children who didn’t need it.
When the government caught them in the act, because this company had millions of dollars in revenue to bribe the state, no one went to jail. The lowly doctor, however, who did not have the millions, was then prosecuted.
Meanwhile, a doctor who was treating himself and others with a plant that he grew in his backyard is serving an 18-year sentence for cultivating that plant.
While the elite pharmaceutical company escapes accountability for conspiring to steal patient data and use it to sell unnecessary and potentially dangerous drugs to children who didn’t need them, Dr. Monroe Gordon Piland III will likely die in prison, all because he simply believes the so-called authorities do not have the God-given authority to criminalize the possession and distribution of a plant, something he equates to blasphemy.
And this is what we call the land of the free.
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