Thursday, July 21, 2016

State AG's Office

Healey, other AGs demand CDC study on gun violence

She's stepping up to the plate on the issue after firing off a warning shot:

"AG warns gun dealers to follow state laws" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  December 23, 2015

Law enforcement officials welcomed Attorney General Maura Healey’s efforts. But several dealers and gun rights advocates criticized the campaign, calling it misguided.

“The first question is: Is it needed?” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, a National Rifle Association affiliate. “I haven’t heard of a lot of problems with licensed retailers in the state. I have heard a lot of complaints from licensed gun dealers” about confusing regulations.

Don Hunt, owner of Hunter’s Trading Post in Weymouth, said he saw no reason for Healey to target licensed dealers because the dealers he knows already obey the law.

“I can’t understand what she is talking about, other than just a political maneuver to make it seem like she’s doing something,” Hunt said. “We have to know this is one of the highest regulated states for obtaining a firearm and, if you’re licensed dealer, we have to know the rules and regulations under which we operate.”

But Jack McDevitt, a Northeastern University criminologist, called Healey’s efforts “a good step in the right direction” if Healey’s efforts would help to curb shootings in Boston, which have increased this year....

?????

--more--"

RelatedGun stores see rush of business after Mass. AG plans to close loophole

That's her opinion.

It will keep you out of the hospital, or at least get you a private room.

AG investigates 12 home health agencies as home health costs rise

What's on TV?

AG to issue final rules for fantasy sports Friday
Mass. finalizes new rules for fantasy sports games

They want their cut.

State bills to allow fantasy sports could hurt smaller firms
Congress puts bull’s-eye on fantasy sports games

We all know how those investigations go.

DraftKings to host Canadian football games

No longer doing college though, and I've lost interest.

"State looks to cut back incentives for insurance firms" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff  February 25, 2016

Drivers in low-income and minority communities in Massachusetts could face higher auto insurance costs if a long-running incentive program for insurance companies is scaled back, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office and some insurers warn.

The incentive program is designed to encourage insurance companies to offer coverage in underserved communities such as Chelsea, Lowell, East Boston, Springfield, and Brockton, as well as to riskier drivers. But an industry group is now calling for that program to be reduced by more than 20 percent statewide, arguing that it is not as necessary in a competitive market.

That move could push more drivers into what’s known as the high-risk pool, which is the insurer of last resort for those who can’t get commercial coverage, according to the office of Attorney General Maura Healey. The change could affect bad drivers —as well as good drivers who live in poor and minority communities that insurers rate as risky because there are higher rates of accidents and fraud.

Being pushed into the high-risk pool would mean fewer choices, higher premiums, and more fees....

--more--"

Also see:

For more drivers, costly insurance pool is only option
State to keep incentive program for car insurers

More than 2,000 Mass. car buyers to get refunds

So nothing much has changed over at Santander.

Related:

Grand Prix of Boston struggling to pay refunds 

They are out of money?

AG threatens litigation over IndyCar refunds
Lawsuits mount against organizers of canceled IndyCar race
Healey moves closer to suing IndyCar sponsors
Boston Grand Prix files for bankruptcy, owes $1.67m to ticketholders
IndyCar will help pay back tickets for scrapped race 

I gotta gas up and get another gig.

‘Pam family scams’ spawning new revelations
District attorney, AG investigate Roxbury real estate dealer

She is now part of the lynch mob.

"Attorney general sues unlicensed nursing school" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  February 24, 2016

Attorney General Maura Healey sued the school, Hosanna College of Health, and its founding executives, Jackson Augustin and Michelle Desarmes, in Suffolk Superior Court.

Her suit alleges Augustin and Desarmes “exploited their shared identity with Haitian immigrants to create confidence and trust, which in turn allowed them to charge steep tuition for a course of training that was essentially worthless.” The lawsuit quotes students accusing Hosanna officials of threatening them if they filed complaints, including “threats to use Vodou, which in Haitian culture is akin to a death threat.”

--more--" 

Fewer than 3 percent of graduates passed the exam?

"Defunct for-profit career school ACI admits defrauding students" by Dan Adams Globe Staff  June 06, 2016

A defunct for-profit “career institute” has acknowledged it illegally tricked thousands of Massachusetts residents into signing up for mostly worthless classes — paid for with more than $30 million in federal loans — by lying about its graduates’ success rates, falsifying records, and admitting unqualified applicants.

American Career Institute, or ACI, admitted the conduct in a consent judgment accepted by a state judge Thursday. The judgment clears the way for Massachusetts prosecutors to ask the US Department of Education to forgive about $30 million in debts for 4,400 former students.

“Our office has achieved an unprecedented result against a predatory for-profit school that we hope will yield long-overdue relief for thousands of ACI students in Massachusetts,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “We . . . will continue to pursue institutions who engage in this illegal and unfair conduct.”

Healey’s office encouraged former ACI students to call the state’s Student Loan Assistance Unit hotline at *-***-***-****, or to fill out an online contact information form.

PPM doesn't divulge phone numbers or addresses as a matter of policy.

The judgment is the latest development in an ongoing state and federal crackdown on for-profit schools, a number of which have been accused of peddling worthless degrees while saddling students with onerous debts.

Healey’s office recently sued ITT Tech and has reached settlements with Kaplan Career Institute, Lincoln Tech, and other schools it accused of similar practices.

Massachusetts prosecutors are also involved in the case against Corinthian Colleges Inc., a massive for-profit chain that once operated more than 100 campuses under the Everest, Heald, and WyoTech brands. It collapsed in 2015. Federal officials have so far approved discharges of $130 million in loans owed by Corinthian students.

ACI offered courses on everything from Web design to medical billing at campuses in Braintree, Cambridge, Framingham, Springfield, and Woburn. The company closed in 2013, having collected $30 million in federal student loan money the previous year. The judgment calls for more than $25 million in penalties, fees, and restitution, but ACI is insolvent and not expected to pay.

Prosecutors said ACI attracted students by boasting that a large percentage of its graduates found work in the fields they had trained in. In reality, they said, the school artificially inflated its success numbers by excluding students who had withdrawn from classes and counting those who got jobs in fields unrelated to their training at ACI or were hired by the school itself....

Once you get the job in government or media that's okay.

--more--"

They $old you a lie?

Who can you go to for help?

That's enough to make you sick:

"Mass. is leader in efforts to rein in soaring drug prices" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  June 06, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — Massachusetts is again a forceful presence at the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization’s convention. The Bay State also emerged as a focal point in the growing backlash against soaring prescription drug prices, which can run tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The clamor from industry critics has remained largely in the background in recent years at the BIO event, where thousands of biopharma executives swap business cards, negotiate partnerships, and trumpet the virtues of their state or country to expanding companies.

This year, bowing to the reality that the affordability push is gaining traction and could eventually affect the economics of the industry, BIO has scheduled more than a half-dozen sessions on drug pricing. The issue will also be discussed at several affiliated events, including a program at the 1,500-square-foot Massachusetts pavilion on the exhibition floor.

I though health of the patient was the fir$t priority.

“It’s not surprising this is bubbling up in Massachusetts,” said Leora Schiff, principal at Altius Strategy Consulting in Somerville, who is tracking the rise of new pricing models in an effort to help life sciences clients navigate a changing environment. “While there are different interests, there’s a recognition that this is a problem that is bigger than all of us. And we have to solve this problem without killing innovation and without bankrupting the health care system.”

Biopharma leaders have long contended that drug prices are only one part of overall health care spending, saying their treatments save money in the long term by keeping patients out of hospitals. But with new specialty therapies spurring larger price increases in recent years — total US drug spending climbed 8.5 percent to a record $310 billion last year, according to the research firm IMS Health — the industry’s argument has proved less persuasive.

See: Burnt to a CRISPR 

$pecialty therapy is "good news for industry and patients, according to Deloitte." They are  blazing trails with a blockbu$ter that will be ringing up the revenue, and despite the losses, everyone will GET PAID! Now you know why the drugs are so costly, but that's modern $ociety in the 21$t-century world of Big Pharma.

The backlash has been fueled by health insurers struggling to pay for costly new hepatitis C and cholesterol-lowering drugs, reports of companies raising their prices annually for existing drugs, and speculators, such as Martin Shkreli, former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, buying medicines and quickly jacking up the prices.

He's been a bad boy in more ways than $cum, and that was kind of the catalyst for this collection of links that are being tossed at you know. You are more than welcome to take a Turing to see the public face of corporate greed. You see who is walking away, right?

"Martin Shkreli, charged with securities fraud and brought before the “imbeciles” of Congress for jacking up the price of life-saving drugs, now has another, if smaller, problem on his hands. The former drug company executive’s one-of-a-kind, $2 million Wu-Tang Clan album includes nine portraits of the rap group’s founding members used without permission, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court."

Been released on bail and we should all look beyond him and what drove him -- no matter how many people are dying. It's all a big laugh.

Of course, he's no different than the others, they just hide it better.

See: US warns Martin Shkreli may face more charges

He finally stopped smirking!

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders have also lambasted the industry on pricing.

In Massachusetts, drug costs have become the fastest-growing component of health spending, rising 13 percent statewide in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the state’s Health Policy Commission. The bill proposed by Montigny, Democrat of New Bedford, would require drug makers to divulge manufacturing, advertising, and research costs while disclosing federal research outlays and prices charged in the United States, compared with other countries. 

He quickly backed down on that, showing you how powerful are the pharmaceuticals. I'm more in awe of them than than the Israeli lobby.

Similar “transparency” bills have been filed in other states. But the Massachusetts bill would go beyond the others by giving public health programs rebates on some expensive medications, relief from what Montigny calls “skyrocketing drug costs” from “greedy corporate interests subsidized with taxpayer money.”

That's the foundation of our $y$tem, dude.

The bill has drawn attention — and opposition — from national drug industry lobbyists, who are also scrambling to fend off a California ballot measure that would limit state drug outlays to what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

“Massachusetts is a leader in dealing with the drug-price issue,” said Garry South, lead strategist for Californians for Lower Drug Prices, the committee leading the ballot initiative campaign and one of many out-of-state activists tracking the activity in the Bay State.

Healey has trained her guns on Gilead, the largest US biotech and one of the few with no significant presence in the Bay State.....

--more--"

Normally I attend those things, but this year I skipped out on that and J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this year. I know it's a critical time; I'm just tired of the fight is all. 

Blame China. After all, there is a war on and those poor fellas are under siege over there. Don't tell me you don't see it. They are already on the march and displacing residents. Been a rough week with the backlash in Congre$$ (and he's a sponsor of bill against drug abuse?) and as prices skyrocket there will be new challenges and old enemies to be met.

***********

"Consumer advocacy groups are protesting. With eight of every nine prescriptions in the United States written for lower-cost generics, they worry that many drugs that Americans take every day may have outdated safety information. The pharmaceutical industry, fearing rising litigation costs, has lobbied hard to thwart the agency and has won delays and allies in Congress. The Generic Pharmaceutical Association, an industry trade group, argues that the added regulatory requirements and litigation costs could eventually add $4 billion to the nation’s health care bill. And it asserts that the new rule would create confusion if only some generic drug makers adopt language about a side effect, leading to a potpourri of potential labels. Generic drugs potentially jeopardize patient safety." 

And you can't put a price on that!

Insulin prices have skyrocketed, putting drug makers on the defensive 

“There are people who can’t afford them. It’s a real problem.”

They are dying now.

"Trying to turn up the political heat on the pharmaceutical industry, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would hold a forum this month on the high prices of some prescription drugs. The move came amid reports of price manipulation and opinion polls that identify drug prices as a top concern for many consumers and voters. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have called for efforts to stop what they call price gouging by drugmakers. House Democrats are forming a panel to explore possible legislation on drug pricing."

It's been 7+ years. What took so long?

Drug makers paid fewer fines for bad behavior in recent years

“We don’t really know why there was a drop,” but I think I do. 

What goes up.... the difference was strikingcrazy even. Enough to make you $ick.

Doctors who accepted meals from drug makers prescribed more of their pills

The issue has resonated over the years as prices for prescription medicines continue to rise, and many drug companies have paid civil and criminal fines for illegal marketing and kickbacks designed to boost prescribing. 

That's the problem: years of writing about it.

Former drug company executive is acquitted of hatching a kickback scheme

The decision is a setback for the federal government, which has recently begun a new effort to hold high-ranking executives at drug makers and other companies accountable for such activities. Over the years, numerous drug makers reached settlements for illegal marketing or paying physicians to favor the medicines, but the feds were criticized because executives rarely suffer any consequences."

Harvard Pilgrim adds new drugs under ‘pay-for-performance’ deals

Drug companies give more perks to smaller hospitals

Drug and device makers pay doctors, hospitals $6.5 billion

Doctors promoting treatments on social media routinely fail to disclose ties to drug makers 

Docs won’t prescribe pricey new cholesterol meds unless they lower heart risks

Cholesterol drugs’ cost limits value, panel says

Harvard Pilgrim strikes ‘pay-for-performance’ deal for cholesterol drug

Maybe we are finally getting through the blockage.

A call for compromise in drug ads debate

Page not found? Is that common?

Drug makers now spend $5 billion a year on advertising. Here’s what that buys.

About 4,545,454 pills from Gilead.

Couldn't that adverti$ing loot go towards treating disease instead, as well as where and who?

“Health insurance is completely byzantine,” said George Loewenstein, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University. “Even insurance executives themselves … have trouble making sense of the monster they’ve created.”

Good thing someone is fighting it.

***********

"AG warns maker on hepatitis drug costs" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  January 27, 2016

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, opening a new front in the push to boost access to life-saving drugs, has warned the country’s biggest biotech company that it faces possible legal action unless it lowers the price of two popular hepatitis C medicines, in a letter to Gilead Sciences Inc., made public Wednesday.

The attorney general said she also wanted to open a broader discussion about the responsibility of drug makers to ensure access to their products, as well as about the impact of rising drug prices on health care spending.

“This drug is priced in a way that puts it out of reach of people who need it,” Healey said after addressing a breakfast meeting of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, which represents the state’s drug makers. “Look, companies are entitled to recover for their costs and are entitled to reap profits. But we need to make sure these drugs are available to people.”

MassBio president Robert Coughlin said his organization has formed a working group with representatives of health insurers and the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a Boston-based watchdog group, to advise public officials on new ways to price prescription drugs. He said the current model of paying to manage chronic diseases is outdated, and new health care payment models should recognize the long-term cost savings of therapies like those for hepatitis C.

In other words, the industry argues, expensive drugs save money by curing costly diseases.

“Here in Massachusetts, we’re inventing cures,’’ Coughlin said.

They must think we are delirious, or he is!

The drugs’ high price tags have placed a burden on state agencies across the nation that pay for care of a large share of patients suffering from the virus. That includes prisons and state Medicaid programs, which collectively spent $1.3 billion on Sovaldi alone in 2014.

That's why they care.

In Massachusetts, the Medicaid program, known as MassHealth, and the managed care plans it contracts with paid about $160 million in the fiscal year ended in June for thousands of members who took hepititis C drugs, according to the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Commercial insurers in the state have also paid more than $100 million over the past two years.

“Because Gilead’s drugs offer a cure for the serious and life-threatening infectious disease, pricing the treatment in a manner that effectively allows [hepatitis C] to continue spreading through vulnerable populations, as opposed to eradicating the disease altogether, results in massive public harm,” Healey wrote in her letter to Gilead.

Govenor Charlie Baker, who had promised to “jawbone” Gilead to reduce its prices last year, conceded Wednesday that those efforts had failed. He said Healey’s letter appeared to make a “compelling case” and said he would reach out to see if his administration could help.

And he is from that world. 

If they aren't listening to one of their own....

“There are very few people who have had luck to date in jawboning [Gilead],” Baker said at a State House press conference to discuss the state’s budget. The governor is proposing a 5 percent increase, to $15.4 billion, next year in the state’s budget for MassHealth.

I'll be dealing with the state budget soon.

Some critics saw a political motivation in Healey’s action as a national backlash against rising drug prices — fueled in part by Democratic presidential candidates — intensifies.

It's been dropped from the campaign in light of shootings and terror. Hmmm.

Healey’s letter is “part of Democrats’ political efforts to make drug pricing a political issue in 2016,” suggested Terry Haines, managing director and head of political analysis at the New York investment firm Evercore ISI. He said the letter is also “a silent attempt to get other state AGs on a bandwagon that she would lead to build pressure on Gilead and by extension other drug manufacturers to drop prices using state unfair trade practices law and other laws.”

Lora Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, a trade group for health insurers, said she welcomed Healey’s action. Prescription drugs, Pellegrini said, account for about 16 percent of the state’s total health care spending and are a particular burden for insurers.

“This is an important moment,” Pellegrini said. “Sovaldi is the tip of the iceberg. The attorney general is sending a strong message to the entire pharmaceutical industry: There’s no blank check.”

She better be careful. They don't fool around.

Gilead shares fell 2.8 percent to $89.63, on a day when many biotech stocks were down.... 

That's ALWAYS the MO$T IMPORTANT THING in my paper.

--more--"

SeeState challenge to Gilead would hinge on untested legal theory 

Then they should not be afraid:

"Gilead has taken a lot of hits lately. Here’s what it really has to fear" by Rebecca Robbins, March 24, 2016

The drug maker Gilead Sciences has been remarkably resilient under a barrage of political attacks and public protests about the high prices of its medications. In recent weeks, though, it has hit some bumps: Deaths of patients taking its lone cancer drug. New competition for its most lucrative product. And this week, a loss in a high-stakes patent battle.

That turbulence has hit Gilead’s stock price. But its biggest financial challenge may well be more pedestrian: a declining flow of patients to take the company’s blockbuster hepatitis C drugs.

Last year alone, Sovaldi and Harvoni generated $19.1 billion in sales. That was nearly two-thirds of total revenue for Gilead, a California company that also makes drugs to treat HIV, cardiovascular diseases, and other conditions.

That dependence on one class of products is a red flag for investors. “At some point we’ll just run out of patients,” said Brian Skorney, a senior research analyst who covers Gilead for the financial services firm Baird.

“The biggest question mark on Gilead from an investor’s standpoint isn’t the pricing issues, but … how durably are we going to see hep C patients come through the system,” Skorney said.

To be sure, Gilead has only reached a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of people around the world who have hepatitis C. Gilead spokeswoman Cara Miller said the company is “confident in the long-term sustainability” of global hepatitis markets, but Gilead has already treated a not-insignificant chunk of the patients who can be easily reached — and who have the means, either on their own or through insurance, to pay for the drugs. (A full course of treatment with Harvoni goes for $94,500 and with Sovaldi, $84,000, though insurers often negotiate substantial discounts.)

Looks like they don't really want to cure you and eliminate a market, but if it's gonna happen they are going to get as much loot out of you as they can before you are cured.

Gilead often can’t charge as much for its hepatitis C drugs overseas; indeed, in many countries, it sells the medications for less than 10 percent of the sticker price in the US.

Aaaah! 

Price gouging! 

Isn't that illegal?

While the American market seems large, with more than 3.5 million people infected, there are few new cases of hep C these days. The remaining untreated patients are disproportionately poor, homeless, or incarcerated.

No money in them, unle$$ you want to fleece taxpayers.

And many of those who have lived with the disease for decades aren’t inclined to seek treatment, sometimes because they were scared off by the bad side effects of older generations of medicines, or because they aren’t experiencing troubling symptoms.

Better get used to it -- or not. That's life under a dictatorship.

Now if you don't mind, I'm feeling kind of feverish.

Newly installed chief executive John Milligan told CNBC reporter Meg Tirrell on Wednesday that looking forward, “the big barrier to treating everybody will be identifying them and getting them into treatment.”

Gilead has said it expects sales from Sovaldi and Harvoni to flatten this year. New US prescriptions of Harvoni, the newer and now much more heavily prescribed of the two medications, have tapered off since peaking last spring, though they recovered somewhat this month, according to weekly estimates from the research firm Symphony Health Solutions.

The challenge is especially acute because Sovaldi and Harvoni work so well. Many bestselling drugs that treat chronic diseases must be taken for years or even decades. But the Gilead products can cure hep C in a couple months, and the patient never needs to take them again.

Yeah, that's a PROBLEM!!

To add to Gilead’s challenges, rival pharmaceutical company Merck got approval this year for its own hepatitis C drug, and a federal jury in Northern California this week found that Merck’s scientists made some of the key discoveries that led to the development of Gilead’s big hepatitis C drugs. Late Thursday, the jury ordered Gilead to pay Merck $200 million in damages for infringing on those patents. A separate hearing will determine how much Gilead should pay Merck in royalties on sales of Harvoni and Sovaldi.

Another wild card for Gilead: The attorney general of Massachusetts in January threatened to sue the company over the high cost of the hep C drugs, saying that its pricing strategy may be an unfair trade practice.

Then there’s Gilead’s blood cancer drug, Zydelig, which is on the market but continues to be tested in clinical trials.

Last week Gilead shut down six of those trials over significant safety concerns, including patient deaths.

The deaths are like an after-thought.

Zydelig wasn’t a big revenue source for Gilead, but still, the setback — along with the departure of a key scientist — raises questions about whether the company can move into oncology, as it had planned in a bid to diversify.

Amid a broader slide in the biotech market, Gilead’s stock price has dropped 25 percent since its recent peak last June.... 

The MO$T IMPORTANT THING!

--more--"

Looks who$e ca$hing out:

"Gilead CEO to step down amid drug price debates" by Drew Armstrong Bloomberg News  January 30, 2016

NEW YORK — Gilead Sciences Inc. chief executive John Martin, under whom the company developed one of the fastest-selling drugs of all time, will step down and be replaced by chief operating officer John Milligan.

Martin, 64, will remain as executive chairman. He has served as CEO since 1996, a year when the company’s total market valuation, about $1 billion, was less than the company’s two blockbuster hepatitis C treatments now bring in in a single month.

In 2011, the company agreed to buy Pharmasset Inc. and its drug PSI-7977 for about $11 billion, a hefty 94 percent premium. That decision paid off....

For who?

--more--"

"Gilead avoided nearly $10 billion in taxes last year thanks to tax dodges" by Ed Silverman, July 13, 2016

Thanks to a pair of pricey hepatitis C treatments, Gilead Sciences has become one of the world’s largest drug makers. Since 2013, revenues have tripled to more than $32 billion and profits grew sixfold, exceeding $18 billion. But beyond successful marketing of lifesaving medicines, the company has excelled in another way — using loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

By transferring certain key assets to Ireland, Gilead was able to take advantage of tax laws that allowed some US sales to be shifted overseas and yield a significantly lower tax rate. Those overseas profits, meanwhile, mushroomed to $28.5 billion, and Gilead was able to escape paying $9.7 billion in US taxes last year, according to a new report published on Wednesday by the Americans for Tax Fairness, an advocacy organization.

It's called an inver$ion, and guess who gets $crewed. 

Good thing government is putting a stop to most of them (once you taste the first one....)

Adding insult to injury, the group pointed out that not only did the high cost of the hepatitis C medicines strain government health care programs, but the drugs were developed, in part, with US taxpayer dollars.

Ungrateful ba$tards, but that's our $y$tem!

The organization, which has chastised Pfizer for similar maneuvers, argues that Congress ought to close the loophole to prevent similar tax dodges and provide taxpayers with a better return.

Indeed, the report comes amid ongoing debate about US corporations that exploit loopholes to avoid paying taxes. Pharmaceutical companies, in particular, have been singled out for attempting to acquire rivals based overseas to enjoy lower tax rates. The US Treasury Department recently issued new rules to thwart such deals, known as tax inversions, prompting Pfizer to scuttle a plan to acquire Allergan.

The latest critique also arrives as Gilead undergoes sustained criticism over its pricing practices.

In 2013, the company launched Sovaldi, its first hepatitis C treatment. The drug boasts a very high cure rate and, therefore, the potential to greatly reduce health care costs that would otherwise skyrocket. But the $84,000 list price for the 12-week regimen — and the $94,500 list price for a follow-up version called Harvoni — alarmed private and public payers, some of which restricted coverage.

Those prices prompted a US Senate Finance Committee investigation, which found the company placed profits before patients. They also played a “significant” part in a 12.2 percent rise in US drug spending in 2014, according to a study in Health Affairs. And a recent study by the World Health Organization concluded that the Gilead drugs remain out of reach for people in many poor countries.

Meanwhile, a curious thing happened on the way to filing its taxes. Gilead reported that the US share of its revenues reached 65 percent, but the US share of its pretax profits dropped to 37 percent. Looked at another way, ATF explained that the drug maker was making only about one-third of its profits in the United States — where sales of its hepatitis C treatments were exploding.

ATF maintained Gilead shifted the profits overseas to avoid taxes and pointed to a few signs to support its analysis. One, in particular, involved transferring economic rights to a key US patent for Sovaldi to an Irish subsidiary. This would have allowed Gilead to create a licensing arrangement that enabled the drug maker to report lower US profits and pay fewer taxes.

Oh, HOW CURIOU$!

Three years ago, in fact, a Gilead executive told analysts the patent had been domiciled in Ireland, which would allow the US corporate tax rate to “decline over time.”

One tax expert believes that while the ATF report may correctly highlight Gilead’s tax gambits, the company is not really the issue at hand.

“I wouldn’t expect much to come from this report, which, while doing so eloquently, simply rehashes problems with the tax law and the accounting rules that have been previously identified,” said Robert Willens, an independent tax adviser who tracks corporate tax maneuvers.

“The real culprit here is the US tax system, which encourages this sort of activity, and the US accounting rules, which allow a company in this position to avoid the accrual of deferred taxes,” he said. “The company seems to be using these rules to its advantage, which is hardly blameworthy, at least to me.”

As ATF noted, Gilead’s worldwide effective tax rate has since plummeted by 40 percent — falling to 16.4 percent last year from 27.3 percent in 2013.

“Gilead excels at tax dodging and price gouging,” said congressman Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, in a statement. “While a chief exporter of drug patents and profits to Ireland, it refuses to charge Americans the much lower drug prices of Ireland. Instead of innovation, it has spent more on stock buybacks for executives and shareholders than on research and development. Gilead’s formula for success: prices up, profits up, tax avoidance up. We don’t need research to know this about drug effectiveness: an unaffordable drug is always 100 percent ineffective.”

A Gilead spokeswoman declined to comment.

ATF also cited a larger problem — the US tax code. The organization notes the US will tax worldwide profits of American companies, but taxes on profits kept offshore are not paid until the money is repatriated as dividends distributed to the parent company. This is why Gilead says its offshore profits are “permanently and indefinitely reinvested.”

For this reason....

--more--"

RelatedGilead to buy Nimbus unit for up to $1.2b

Does that meet your approval?

They really look so OUT of TOUCH right now.

Cutting off the opioid epidemic at the root

'twas a Valiant effort....

"Healey campaign sends e-mail to state workers — and quickly retracts it" by Frank Phillips Globe Staff  February 05, 2016

It’s not uncommon for statewide political figures to trip over state ethics and campaign finance laws — but when you are the attorney general, it is pretty embarrassing.

Like Coakley mingling her state and federal campaign accounts that were being watched over by family. 

If we learned anything from Baker the other night it is keep things quiet and don't make a fuss about such things. Just retool and keeps funding. It will save billions as health care is expanded and more join the billion-dollar club. The meds have become an indispensable partnership, and they are sharing a home.

"Attorney General Maura Healey’s office normally would be defending Governor Charlie Baker’s state agencies in a court battle — but not this time. Instead, when the state Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments about the Baker administration’s proposed pipeline tariff on Thursday, a lawyer from Healey’s office was opposing the administration, not supporting it. The issue involves an unusual tariff that the Department of Public Utilities could allow utility companies — namely Eversource Energy and National Grid — to impose on electric ratepayers to help pay for natural gas pipeline construction. The DPU approved the rules last fall to address the region’s pipeline constraints. The proponents argue that the cost of new or expanded pipelines would be more than offset by cheaper gas as more flows into the region. But Healey, acting in her role as a ratepayer advocate, isn’t buying it. Her office has filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with the Conservation Law Foundation’s challenge. One of her staff lawyers made a brief argument alongside attorneys for the foundation and liquefied natural gas shipper Engie before the state’s highest court on Thursday. The AG’s office argues that existing electricity market rules address some of these issues, making this unprecedented requirement for electric ratepayers to shoulder pipeline construction costs unnecessary. The plan, her office argues, would expose ratepayers to risks that the Legislature sought to avoid by restructuring the electric industry in the late 1990s."

Again, she was the catalyst for all this.

That’s what happened to Attorney General Maura Healey when her campaign committee sent out a blast e-mail Wednesday night asking her supporters — and public employees who work for her — to join her in New Hampshire Saturday to knock on doors and canvass voters for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I’m kicking off two canvasses Saturday and need you help,’’ she told the recipients, who included employees at the attorney general’s office and other state agencies. She and other Massachusetts political leaders, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh, are heading to the Granite State with an army of volunteers to help Clinton this weekend before the presidential primary on Tuesday.

The e-mail included a button that recipients could click on to donate to Healey’s political committee.

When the committee realized many of the messages were sent to state government addresses, Healey’s political adviser, David Guarino, followed up with an e-mail admitting there had been “an inadvertent error” and some of the original message had “mistakenly” been sent to state employees.

While the e-mail raises campaign finance and ethics issues, it is far from clear there was any serious violation, particularly with Guarino’s quick retraction.

Guarino said Healey’s political office immediately contacted the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance for guidance on how to correct the problem and the committee is sifting through its e-mail list to purge the state addresses.

He said the committee had yet to determine how many e-mails went to state workers, including those in the attorney general’s office whose names were on the list because they were invited to the celebrations surrounding her swearing-in ceremonies a year ago.

“We are reviewing our list to try to ensure this doesn’t happen again,’’ he said.

Damage done.

--more--"

Next time you break the law, tell the authorities it's all a mistake.

"Judge slams AG bid to hide records" by John R. Element, Globe Staff

A Suffolk Superior Court judge harshly criticized Bridgewater State University administrators for “stonewalling’’ the parents of children at a university day care facility where a staffer has been accused of sexually molesting children.

In unusually passionate language, Judge Dennis J. Curran rejected a bid by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, the attorney for the state employees at Bridgewater, to end an unusual legal tactic by Boston attorney Carmen Durso to get public records from the university.

“These families have now been traumatized twice: once by the rape and molestation of their little children, and second, by certain government employees who appear more concerned with protecting their own employees and preventing the truth from emerging into the light of day,’’ Curran wrote.

Who does he mean?

In two companion rulings, Curran excoriated Healey’s office for invoking a “legal technicality’’ to block the release of information. He also lambasted school officials.

“Who speaks for the children in this case. Not the Attorney General’s office, charged with protecting public safety, not a few university administrators, who seem to have forgotten the original purpose of an educational institution: To seek the Truth,’’ Curran wondered in his rulings.

Not good.

Curran was asked by Healey’s office to dismiss the case filed by Durso on behalf of the parents of four children. The plaintiffs include the parents of one child who was allegedly molested and other parents who are wondering whether their children might also have been attacked.

Durso said he tried a traditional public records request but shifted to a rarely used legal tactic that allows him to depose people before he sues because public employees are involved and he is raising concerns under federal civil rights laws.

“I didn’t come into this spoiling for a fight,’’ Durso said. “We will fight if that’s the way it’s going to be. I actually had hopes that the AG’s office would work with us to get this out in the open.’’

Eva Gaffney, spokeswoman for Bridgewater State University, declined comment and referred questions to the attorney general’s office.

In a statement, Healey spokeswoman Cyndi Roy-Gonzalez said Healey’s office has been working with the parents to provide them with documents they are “entitled to’’ and said Bridgewater has provided some documents after being prodded by Healey’s office.

“This a tragic case and we continue to work to ensure that the parents receive all the documents that they are entitled to,’’ she wrote, adding that Healey’s office consulted with Durso on using the public records law to try to get some information released. “Based on the court’s decision, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the parents receive any and all additional documents they are entitled to receive from BSU.’’

Kyle Loughlin, a Bridgewater State student who worked at the center, is accused of sexually assaulting two boys, 4 and 5, in March 2015. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office last year also charged Judith Ritacco, the former director of the day care center, with reckless endangerment for allegedly failing to act on warnings from staff members that Loughlin was acting inappropriately with children.

Both Loughlin and Ritacco have pleaded not guilty. Loughlin’s case is pending in Plymouth Superior Court, while Ritacco’s case is pending in Brockton District Court, officials said.

Curran wrote that both would probably invoke their right against self-incrimination if the plaintiffs sought to depose them in a civil lawsuit. The children are too young, he said, to provide relevant information.

For the parents, then, the only way to determine the extent of harm to their children is from Bridgewater’s own records. And in a series of single-sentence paragraphs, Curran lamented:

“What has become of us, as a people.’’

“Where have we gone so terribly wrong.’’

“How have we allowed such cruelty, indifference and pettiness to rule us.’’

“This case is about little children — at least one of whom was allegedly raped with violence by a state-employed caregiver.’’

“The parents’ request for relief must be granted; their complaint may be maintained; and discovery shall shed light on what has happened here. Sunshine is a powerful disinfectant,’’ Curran wrote.

Martin W. Healy, chief counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association, said Curran’s passionate language was more commonly seen in appellate court rulings but was appropriate for a judge in the trial court.

“There is certainly a fine line between passion and advocacy. I don’t think that Judge Curran crossed that line. He is clearly frustrated’’ by the legal tactics employed by the school and Healey’s office, Healy said.

Healy said Bridgewater State and the attorney general’s office have the right to appeal the ruling and might win a reversal if they choose to adopt that legal strategy in the near future.

--more--"

I wonder what is her next crusade?

"Volkswagen’s post-scandal stock market behavior probed" by David McHugh and David Rising Associated Press  June 21, 2016

BERLIN — Prosecutors are investigating former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and another unnamed executive over allegations they didn’t inform investors soon enough about the company’s scandal over cars rigged to cheat on US diesel emissions tests.

The Braunschweig prosecutor’s spokesman, Matthias Diekman, said the probe was opened at the behest of Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.

German law requires publicly traded companies to alert investors as soon as unforeseen developments could affect a decision to buy or sell a stock. Prosecutors said Volkswagen made that notification Sept. 22, but there was evidence the disclosure should have been made earlier.

Volkswagen said it had the issue reviewed by outside lawyers who found ‘‘no clear or serious violations of duty’’ and that the prosecutor’s statement contained ‘‘no new facts or findings over possible violations’’ by the two executives. The company had already said in response to an investor lawsuit that it met its disclosure obligation.

Volkswagen has said Winterkorn was sent a memo on May 23, 2014, about emissions irregularities uncovered by an environmental group, but the company was not sure he saw it, and top officials discussed the matter on July 27, 2015.

The company said earlier that the issue was believed to be something that could be resolved through a settlement that would not impose heavy costs, and it still believed that to be the case in early September 2015.

On September 18, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a violation notice, leading Volkswagen to assess the risks as more serious and issue its investor advisory four days later.

Winterkorn stepped down as the scandal came to light, ‘‘in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.’’

Volkswagen has admitted equipping cars with software that sensed when the car was on a test stand and turned off emission controls during everyday driving. The company has apologized and commissioned a law firm to investigate. It is negotiating a settlement with US authorities in federal court in San Francisco on how it would fix or buy back some 500,000 diesels sold in the United States. Some 11 million such cars were sold worldwide.

Volkswagen has set aside 16.2 billion euros ($18.3 billion) from last year’s earnings to deal with the costs of recalls and fixes....

--more--"

Also see:

German prosecutors investigate VW manager for impeding emissions probe
Volkswagen diesel recall rejected by Calif. regulators
VW emissions settlement could reach $10.2b
VW agrees to pay consumers biggest auto settlement in history
VW faces long road ahead, even after US settlement
Volkswagen looks to deal with cost problems but faces constraints
In VW showrooms, there is little to show from the settlement

Write 'em a letter if you are angry

Whatever you do, don't drive:

"Northeast drivers most likely to admit their aggressive driving habits" by Olivia Quintana Globe Correspondent  July 14, 2016

In a finding that will come as little surprise to Massachusetts motorists, the American Automobile Association reported Thursday that drivers in the Northeast are the most likely to admit to aggressive behavior behind the wheel.

AAA found that drivers in the Northeast were more likely to yell, honk, or gesture at other motorists.

I attribute it to the Yankee in us.

Nationally, close to 80 percent of motorists reported using at least one form of aggressive behavior while driving. Approximately half of drivers reported purposely tailgating another car, yelling at another operator, or using their horn, AAA found.

A small number of people also reported engaging in behavior that is considered road rage. Almost 4 percent said they had exited their vehicle to confront another driver, and nearly 3 percent reported they purposely bumped or rammed another vehicle....

Hey, ya' f***ing !@#$%&*!

--more--"

Better call Uber instead....

NDUs:

AG Healey’s assault weapons order is an overdue step

As Biogen CEO steps down, analysts see challenges ahead

Medical groups push to water down requirements for disclosing industry ties

Feds sue to stop insurance mergers, see threat to consumer

There is still hope.

UPDATE: Pharma trade group says price gougers are outliers, but then accepts two more

Time to log out of this post.

AG Healey has funds for Indycar fans