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U.S. Democrats propose $1 billion plan to research, cut cost of medical treatments

BY Melissa Valliant

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Democratic lawmakers said Thursday that they want to take a $1.1 billion chunk out of an $825 billion tax cut and spending bill announced by the Democrats in the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee in order to thoroughly research the effectiveness of medical treatments.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. healthcare spending during the past 40 years has tripled to $2 trillion a year, and half of this is linked to new drugs and medical devices. Lawmakers believe that by comparing the effectiveness of different treatments, they could ultimately lower healthcare costs for taxpayers whose money supports the technology used by patients in government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

“Finding out what works best and educating patients and doctors will improve treatment and save taxpayers money,” said a summary of the proposal.

Pharmaceutical and medical-device companies remain skeptical and are concerned with the effect this may have on their sales growth that stems from their newer, more profitable treatment. Supporters of the plan argue that these companies are not interested in comparing their products with that of their competitors to find out which is more effective, and they frequently depend on the government to do this research. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America plans to review the Democrats’ proposal.

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Publix to open 1,000th store Feb. 5

BY Michael Johnsen

LAKELAND, Fla. Publix will open the doors to store No. 1,000 on Feb. 5, the grocer announced Thursday. The latest addition to Publix, which will stand at 54,000 sq. ft., will include a pharmacy, bakery, deli and floral and fresh seafood departments.

“We are proud of our 79-year history, rich in providing superior customer service and delivering a high-quality selection of foods, products and services,” stated Publix president Todd Jones.

Opening day festivities will begin with a performance by the St. John’s Academy of the Arts choral group. To commemorate the milestone, Publix will grant eight local area schools $1,000 each to use toward the purchase of school supplies.

According to the company, the Florida Historical Society will be on-hand to recognize and document Publix’ milestone.

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Eli Lilly agrees to settlement over alleged mispromotion of Zyprexa

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. has agreed to pay $1.415 billion to resolve allegations that it promoted the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa for unapproved uses.

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that the Indianapolis-based company would pay a $515 million criminal fine (the largest ever in a healthcare case and the largest criminal fine ever imposed on an individual corporation) and up to $800 million in a civil settlement with the federal government and the states. It will also forfeit assets of $100 million.

The settlement will resolve criminal and civil allegations that Lilly promoted Zyprexa (olanzapine) for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including treatment of dementia in elderly people. 

In a plea agreement, the company has admitted its guilt to a misdemeanor charge. It also signed a civil settlement to resolve claims that by marketing the drug for off-label uses, it caused the submission of false payment claims to federal health insurance plans such as Medicaid, TRICARE and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

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