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USA Today points out that pharmaceuticals have paid at least 8 billion dollars in fraud penalties

In today's USA TODAY, it was pointed out that Pfizer has paid 3 billion dollars in fines and Merck an additional $1.6 billion, with other major pharmaceutical manufacturers paying more than $3.4 billion.  Despite this record of overwhelming fraud on Medicare and Medicaid, the companies continue to make record profits from sales to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, because under their patent protection, the consumers have no where else to purchase needed medications.  An Assistant inspector general for Health and Human Services pointed out that the government is "seeing some of the big companies a second and third time...the corporate integrity agreement [which convicted companies sign as part of the resolution of claims] is not sufficient to deter further misconduct."  In response, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa joined with Democrats to attempt to pass a federal bill that would include individual liability for corporate executives, however, heavy spending (over 200 million dollars including 12 million by Pfizer) and lobbying by the pharmaceutical companies has thus far prevented passage.

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