“The evil men do lives after them...the good is oft interred with their bones.”
-William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene II
This is an unfortunate fact of life for most of us natural humans. We may do great and wonderful things for others that are soon forgotten – but society hangs our mistakes around our necks like mill stones for the rest of our lives. This raises a question: how come this doesn't hold true for “corporate” people? Why are their mistakes and crimes so quickly forgotten?
Let us try to rectify this situation...
Fresenius, manufacturer of Granuflo and Naturalyte, dialysis medications that have been implicated in sudden heart attacks in patients who receive it, is currently the defendant in multi-district litigation across the country. The number of cases against this German-based pharmaceutical firm is growing. Furthermore, a memo from November of 2011 shows that the medical staff at Fresenius knew about the dangers of the drug – and the company failed to issue warnings. Plaintiffs allege that Frenesius “intentionally, recklessly and/or negligently concealed, suppressed, omitted and misrepresented the risks, dangers, defects, and disadvantages of GranuFlo and NaturaLyte” - and they appear to have a strong case.
It's not the first time Fresenius has been caught with its corporate pants down (and should we be surprised?)
Thirteen years ago, Fresenius was under investigation by the Federal Government. The reason: its National Medical Care division (a company it had recently purchased from W.R. Grace & Company, one of the biggest asbestos producers in the country during the 20th Century and responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of asbestos-related disease) had paid kickbacks to doctors and overbilled Medicare (in some cases, charging for services that were never provided) . By the time all had been said and done, Fresenius wound up paying nearly half a billion dollars in fines and compensation – setting a record in the U.S.
The matter was quickly forgotten; a few years later, Fresenius wound up being awarded lucrative contracts by Ireland's Health Service Executive. However, the German pharmaceutical firm's skeletons refused to stay buried; when news of Fresenius' earlier misbehavior came to light, there was massive outrage across that country.
In most cases, a defendant's past behavior cannot be used as evidence against them if the judge believes it would be “prejudicial” - but a plaintiff's attorney (or a prosecutor in a criminal case) can raise such issues if they are relevant to the present case and illustrate a pattern of behavior. The fact that Frenesius was forced to settle the case in which they were charged with fraud and violations of federal anti-kickback statutes may have no real bearing on present litigation.
And then again, it might. In 2009, Frenesius again came under federal scrutiny when a whistleblower working in an El Paso, Texas dialysis clinic reported that she was instructed to have two employees who were not doctors sign off on Medicare reimbursement forms. This is something that legally, only a licensed physician is authorized to do. It amounts to yet another case of fraud against the government agency. Last summer, an Alabama woman filed suit against Fresenius and one of its clinics, DaVita, on behalf of her late husband, who died after treatment with Granuflo. The widow's complaint lists (among other things) “...wantonness, fraud, wrongful death, and unjust enrichment.”
All of this raises the question however of why any government health care agency – be it Ireland's HSE or the U.S. Medicare system – would ever consider doing business with this company. Natural persons with criminal records or negative items in their personal or professional/employment record often find it difficult – and even impossible – to find gainful employment. However, it never seems to be a problem for “corporate” persons.
This serves as yet another illustration of why the entire concept of private, for-profit health care is an abomination – and, until this concept is abolished, we can expect even more fraud and abuse – and more needless patient deaths in the name of preserving and maximizing those profits.
Talk show host and author Thom Hartmann has frequently commented that he would not want a government-run factory producing his shoes, his computer, his car or the appliances that make life more comfortable – and in this respect, he is absolutely correct. The old Soviet factories did a notoriously bad job of manufacturing consumer goods, which more often than not, were shoddy, third-rate copies of those made by U.S. and other Western manufacturers.
On the other hand, Mr. Hartmann points out that when it comes to those things upon which our lives and the good of society depend, the private, profit-driven free market system has no place. Invariably, it leads to a plethora of abuses and massive corruption – for which the rest of us natural humans pay the price.
Just take a look at Frenesius.
Larkin, Perry. “A Fatal Heart Attack After Taking Granuflo Spurs A Lawsuit.” Injury Lawyer News, 16 August 2012. Available at http://injurylawsuitnews.com/2012/08/a-fatal-heart-attack-after-taking-granuflo-spurs-a-lawsuit/ .
Meritz, Darren. “Lawsuit Alleges Medicare Fraud.” El Paso Times, 5 November 2009. Also see http://www.brooklaw.edu/newsandevents/news/2010/~/media/C05FEB9C474746F6953943A624572225.ashx .
N/A. “Granuflo and Naturalyte Lawsuits.” Drugwatch, 4 March 2013. Available at http://www.drugwatch.com/granuflo-naturalyte/lawsuit/ .
O'Connor, Marie. “Dialysis Giant Under Multi-Million HSE Contract Topped US Government Criminal Fraud Fine League.” Indy Media Ireland (Saormheáain Éireann), 19 May 2008.
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