Enforcing Big Pharma’s integrity

Katrice Bridges Copeland once worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C., defending pharmaceutical companies in fraud cases. The experience was an eye-opener. Now she teaches white-collar criminal law at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, where her research targets illegal marketing practices by the pharmaceutical industry. Most of the illegalities stem from off-label marketing of prescription medications. Such uses constitute fraud because companies receive government reimbursements for those drugs even though the purposes are not FDA-approved.

Copeland maintains that federal deterrents against such practices are ineffective, and she offers some solutions that she says will help solve the problem. The government pays out a whopping $60 billion a year in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to drug companies, so what she has to say is getting national attention. See a recent USA Today story, for example.

What usually happens, Copeland explains, is that the government launches an intense investigation of a drug company’s alleged violations, the company admits guilt and pays a fine—and then becomes a repeat offender. Another investigation and fine may follow, but the fines are often outweighed by the increased profits that accrue from the illegal practices.

The government is generally unwilling to pursue pharmaceutical manufacturers through the courts because as the law stands now, conviction means excluding a company from receiving any Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for any of its drugs. That would seriously harm innocent parties: shareholders, employees, and patients who are prescribed any of the company’s drugs. (Patients would have to pay for their medications from their own pockets.)

Copeland suggests several solutions to the problem, including holding corporate officers who participate in illegal practices criminally liable, and removing only the drug in question from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. Innocent third parties would be shielded from the devastating consequences of having all the company’s pharmaceuticals excluded.

Copeland explains in this brief Penn State Law video what prompted her research. Her recent paper, “Enforcing Integrity” offers more details about her proposed solutions.

Penn State Research is On the Road!

Good morning from our nation’s capitol! I traveled to Washington, D.C. yesterday for the launch of the University’s newest outreach program, Research on the Road. The concept? To bring faculty researchers to locations around the country with active alumni chapters for lively conversations on timely topics.

We could not have had better partners for our inaugural Research on the Road event than the dynamic folks of the Metro D.C. Penn State alumni chapter!

Continue reading Penn State Research is On the Road!

Do students value an easy A?

Do students typically gravitate toward college courses that are more likely to yield an “easy A, ” instead of taking more difficult classes that will make greater demands on their time without the assurance of a high grade?  Also, in their subsequent course evaluations, do students who take the so-called easy classes rate them higher and the tough ones correspondingly lower?

An interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers, including faculty from the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Penn State World Campus, decided to find out, aiming to “help inform how we approach course preparation and teaching,” according to Lawrence Ragan, World Campus director of faculty development.

The researchers recently surveyed a group of University Park campus students to see what these students really value in their courses, including the single best predictor of how much liked or disliked a course.

A news story highlights what they found. You can download more detailed reports of their findings at the team’s Schreyer Institute site.

Wanted: Global Strategy that works

“If one considers where America was 20 years ago and compares that to where the United States is today, in terms of its ability to achieve its own stated, high-priority objectives in the world, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the United States is a declining power.”

That’s Flynt Leverett, professor in Penn State’s School of International Affairs, in a recent public lecture at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law.

U.S. power is waning, Leverett added, “because, since the end of the Cold War, American political and policy elites have failed to do their job as strategists.  They have failed to define clear, ‘reality-based’ strategic goals and to relate the diplomatic, economic, and military tools at Washington’s disposal to realizing these goals in a sober and efficacious manner.”  Continue reading Wanted: Global Strategy that works

Quoth the Raven …

Well we don’t have ravens, but I woke up this morning to the raucous screeching of a crow — cousin of the common raven — outside my window.  Not an uncommon occurrence in State College today, but ten years ago, crows were rarely seen in town or on campus.  Now they are ubiquitous in pairs throughout the summer tending their nests and their young and in groups roosting at night on campus in the winter.

Patrick Mansell, Penn State

I’m told they group together at night in the winter in locations that are slightly warmer and where there is light, and of course trees in which to roost.  This makes campus an ideal location and this winter we saw streams of crows congregating at dusk, a la Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” flying to the front of Old Main to spend the night in the trees.  Continue reading Quoth the Raven …

Skip to toolbar