They would use the brand drug, but in fact they would put the results to the generic they were making. And this is—you know, this kind of fraudulent data is what they were using to get approval from the U. So, Dinesh Thakur, once this got exposed, his boss went into a board meeting and presented this to a subcommittee of the board of directors. And the question that he got back is: Could the report be buried, and could the laptop that the report was created on be destroyed? So, the company chose to conceal this.
Ultimately, his boss resigned, and he was forced out of the company. And he decided to approach regulators with the information that he had, and ultimately he became a whistleblower for the FDA. And it is the biggest-selling drug of all time. Millions of their doses of Lipitor had to be recalled because they were infused with glass fragments. They happened to find this. So, you know, there is so little disclosure to consumers. What they need to do is look at the manufacturer on the label, OK? They feel pretty good. We are all getting switched from generic to generic to generic every time we go to a pharmacy.
But once you know that there is a manufacturer that is working for you, you need to inform your pharmacy that is the drug you want to continue taking. Would you take a generic drug? Well, I do take generic drugs. Of course, we all take generic drugs. Her book is just out.
Back with her in a minute. I want to turn to the Indian scientist Yusuf Hamied, chair of the drug manufacturer Cipla, who shook the conscience of the global health community by offering to produce generic AIDS medication at a tiny fraction of the cost. This is Dr. Hamied speaking several years ago. You must also understand that 8,plus are dying every day because of HIV and related illnesses. The problem is not just what Cipla can do.
So I sincerely believe that the effort required is a team effort—the multinational companies, ourselves, the government, or governments of various countries. And it has to be a team effort. Yusuf Hamied, Indian scientist. Talk about Hamied, talk about Cipla, and what he did. First, let me just correct myself, which is, Lipitor, of course, is a statin, not a sartan. We were talking about valsartan earlier, so I misspoke. But Dr. Yusuf Hamied is really one of the great individuals of the 21st century.
He looked around, saw this massive AIDS epidemic, and he saw brand companies protecting their drugs through a minefield of patents, and decided something had to be done. And so what he did was he announced, working with a group of activists, that he was prepared to manufacture AIDS drugs for a dollar a day, which was such a dramatic price cut that that set in motion a series of events that led to, ultimately, a very important U.
Bush program. It was—President Clinton had a big impact on the events that led to it, because the Clinton Foundation helped, working with Indian manufacturers, to reduce the price further to 38 cents a day. He sort of aggregated the buying power of African governments and U.
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They were—wanted to protect their patents. And the outcry was so enormous that, ultimately, they waived their patents so that the India manufacturers could make these AIDS cocktails at a very low price.
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It's just blacks dying. And this was said out loud on a conference call of Ranbaxy executives in about And I shake my head. Why would I do that to you? So, the smoking gun was this PowerPoint presentation which was shown to a subcommittee of the board of directors. And it spelled out, in detail, that Ranbaxy had fabricated data, completely invented data, for more than products in more than 40 countries, in an effort to just support business needs.
In other words, they needed approvals, and they made up data. So, I mean, Ranbaxy was manufacturing a huge number of generic drugs for the U. They were manufacturing generic drugs all over the world. Ultimately, this document, the disclosures around this document and prosecution by the U. So, this has been part of a sort of long exodus of manufacturing from the U. It really started with antibiotics. One of the issues was environmental regulations, and companies wanted to—you know, very stringent or more stringent environmental regulations in the U.
And, in fact, the brand-name companies also ended up shifting manufacturing overseas. So that was really one of the reasons behind it. And Elizabeth Warren, in fact, has a very interesting proposal to get the U. I mean, looked at one way, this is a national security issue. We need to manufacture our own medicine. And, in fact, this was a number of FDA investigators, who, based on the things that they witnessed in these plants overseas, basically have stopped taking generics manufactured overseas. They are very particular about which companies they take drugs from. President Trump prides himself on rolling back regulations in the regulatory agencies, the FDA chief among them.
But, in fact, behind the scenes, they are downgrading from the most serious findings to less serious findings. And this is something that really needs to be, I think, investigated by Congress. I hope it would. And how much in the pocket are lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, of the drug industry? I think that lawmakers who have been on this a long time are inclined to look at the role of the FDA in all of this and their claims that their regulation is adequate.
I think there is some appetite to do that. What shocked you most, Katherine? They have to test the environment. They have to test the air. They have to test the water. So, what is real, and what is fake? I mean, from the moment that he lands at an airport, is followed by company representatives, one of whom—there is a man who yanks open the door of his cab, takes a hard look at him, closes it again.
The investigators go to the plant. Several of them fall ill because of tainted water. They learn later that even as they were at night in the hotel room talking about their inspections and their findings, the company had bugged the hotel room.
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That is the level of the—. In fact, they pulled him off of doing inspections. That does it for our show. Happy Birthday, Simin Farkhondeh! Thanks for joining us. Watch Full Show. This is viewer supported news.
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Please do your part today. Related Topics Guests Links Transcript. Topics Corporate Power. Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. Welcome back to Democracy Now! Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow. Some of the work s that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us. Speaking Events Jul. Headlines for June 28 Watch Read. He comes in and creates a paper trail to hide the fraud and get pharmacists off.
Ivan creates fake transfers from other pharmacies to make those drugs appear in the inventory. Sometimes the auditors give notice that they are going to inspect a pharmacy and Ivan comes and fixes the books ahead of time. Pharmacists bill the province every two weeks for medication dispensed to ODB patients and are paid shortly afterwards. Dishonest pharmacists overbill by tacking extra drugs they never dispensed onto their bills so they are reimbursed for more drugs than they sold. Untold millions earmarked for the sick and needy end up in their pockets. Statistics obtained from a freedom of information request show that once identified, virtually all overbilled amounts are recovered.
The recovery occurs almost immediately, often years before pharmacists face criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings. And when it comes to holding pharmacists accountable — even when they admit to overbilling — the system is set up to fail. The government recouped its money after Amin remortgaged her house and sold land in Sudan.
In their report, inspectors wrote that the pharmacy had more than doubled its ODB reimbursements by overbilling. Amin provided fake invoices that overstated her wholesale drug purchases by per cent, according to college disciplinary documents. Amin did not respond to interview requests made through messages left with her children and a detailed letter delivered to her home.
In fraud cases, pharmacists typically use this information to repeatedly fill phantom prescriptions and bill the government. Ted Schendera, who heads the Ontario Provincial Police health fraud investigation unit. Many pharmacies bill for hundreds of boxes each month. With multiple products, illicit profits can soar into the millions. After massive frauds involving blood glucose test strips were exposed in the early s, the province changed its reimbursement policy, limiting how many strips ODB will cover.
OPP investigators often discover that not only were the test strips never dispensed, they were never bought by the pharmacy, Schendera said. Because audits take so long to complete, it makes it difficult for police to make arrests. These fraudster pharmacists often get more money for their pharmacies because the overbilling makes them look more profitable than they actually are.
Attalla, who has owned 18 pharmacies across the GTA and Golden Horseshoe over the last 20 years, admitted to professional misconduct at the college, but the prosecution of his criminal case fell apart after audit reports were ruled inadmissible and the charges were withdrawn in Three of his pharmacies declared bankruptcy and were seized in The next year, Attalla stopped paying the mortgage on his 10,sq.
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Mississauga mansion, which was seized by creditors and sold. He also said he only admitted fault at the college because he ran out of money to defend himself. The amount overbilled was clawed back from later payments to his pharmacy, said Attalla, although the ministry would not confirm this.