Tag Archives: silverman

Four states refuse to name hyper-prescribing docs

As part of his war against overprescription and fraud, Sen. Charles Grassley asked states to share data on doctors who  write colossal amounts of prescriptions for drugs covered by Medicaid. At this point, at least four states are holding out, and Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman is naming names. Montana, Alabama, Wisconsin and New Jersey have declined Grassley’s request, and a commenter says Michigan, which didn’t name names, belongs on the list as well.

Silverman attempted to contact the four holdouts he listed and gleaned what other information he could from other published sources. The reasons officials gave are, for the most part, well-worn: The data’s too expensive to collect, it doesn’t have enough context and, according to Alabama, might wrongly pinpoint physicians with legitimate reasons for prescribing all those drugs.

In reply, Silverman lets the already disclosed data speak for itself:

… in Florida, the top Zyprexa provider wrote 1,356 scrips for 309 patients in 2008 and 1,238 for 236 last year, compared to the 10th-highest prescriber each year who wrote 256 for 55 patients and 192 scrips for 30 people, respectively (more here). In Texas, one doc authorized 13,596 filled scrips for Xanax in 2008, and increased that to 14,170 filled in 2009. The doc who occupied the lowest ranking in the top 10 prescribers wrote just 1,444 and 1,696, respectively. The list goes on…


AHCJ members can read more about getting Medicaid prescribing data from states in this article by Christina Jewett. Jewett, now at CaliforniaWatch, requested Medicaid data from a number of states for an investigation for ProPublica.

BMJ exposes UK drugmaker’s astroturf attempt

Pharmalot blogger Ed Silverman reports that, had they not been exposed by BMJ, the UK pharmaceutical company Norgine probably would have gotten away with quietly organizing doctors and patient groups to submit a letter to The Times protesting a government plan to require substituting generic drugs for brand-name ones where applicable. Norgine’s name appeared nowhere on the letter, which was written by a PR firm they’d hired. Furthermore, several patient groups which signed the letter also received funding from pharmaceutical companies.

In the end though, Silverman writes, Norgine came away from the incident pretty well, considering the outcry over their stunt.

Norgine may have had the last laugh, however. Apart from being lambasted publicly for being a secretive and manipulative company, the drugmaker issued a celebratory press release earlier this month trumpeting the decision by the government to scrap the proposed automatic generic substitution plan.


For more European health news, see AHCJ’s Covering Europe initiative.

13 years of warnings, FDA inaction behind seizure

U.S. marshals seized a number of drug products from a small New Jersey pharmaceutical manufacturer called Tri-Med laboratories earlier this month. It doesn’t sound like much, and there hasn’t really been any coverage beyond a press release, but Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman has the whole story, one that chronicles 13 years of failed inspections and FDA inaction.

You’d do best to just read Silverman’s post, “Thirteen Years Later, The Feds Seize Some Meds,” but here’s a summary:

In 1997, the FDA inspected and warned TriMed. Seven years later, they did it again. In 2009, it was time for yet another encore. Finally, this month, they took action and seized a few drugs, stating in the release that, as Silverman writes, “Tri-Med has been making and distributing unapproved, misbranded and adulterated drugs with significant manufacturing violations since 1997.” And it only took them several failed inspections (and a recall along the way) to realize it.

Did PLoS suffer from COI in ghostwriting article?

Remember that examination of Wyeth (now Pfizer)’s ghostwriting practices that ran in PLoS Medicine a few weeks back? Well, Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman reports that things got a fair bit weirder, thanks to an accusation from Wyeth/Pfizer that the article’s author suffered from her own undisclosed conflict of interest. The article mentions author Adriane Fugh-Berman was a paid expert witness in the trial against Wyeth through which the documents were exposed, but never discloses that she’s still engaged as such.

Silverman got in touch with Fugh-Berman, who said she would clarify her status.

Things get a bit muddier when company representatives allege that the journal was intentionally using the article fodder for an anti-Pfizer lawsuit. Silverman does a good job of explaining the whole situation.

Related: Say what? Pfizer calls PLoS out on conflict of interest