Experts seek alternatives to excluding drug companies

WASHINGTON – Katrice Bridges Copeland used to defend pharmaceutical company executives when their companies were accused of fraud.

But when she saw that Pfizer, after being accused of fraud, had entered a third corporate integrity agreement with the government and paid $2.3 billion in fines to avoid being excluded from doing business with Medicare, Copeland said she was infuriated. She sat down and wrote a 63-page paper encouraging more effective measures to get companies to comply.

“That’s not even a quarter of their profits,” said Copeland, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University. “I was up in arms.”

Government officials say they are, too, and they’ve talked about incorporating some of Copeland’s ideas.

“That’s a question we’ve been struggling with for the last couple of years,” said Gregory Demske, assistant inspector general for legal affairs at Health and Human Services. “We recognize there’s a problem.” Read More