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Largest Medical Device Lawsuit Ever Awarded

The largest medical device lawsuit ever awarded might surprise you. The award happened in May 2017, to the tune of $454 million. It was not a faulty imaging device or elaborate robotic surgery apparatus, rather a seemingly low-tech piece of equipment; surgical gowns. In this case, the surgical gown was made by Halyard Health, a former subsidiary of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

Halyard manufactured a gown called the MicroCool gown which by all standards is a medical device. The technology behind the gown is such that it was guaranteed to be cool, comfortable and most importantly, impermeable to infectious agents such as the Ebola virus and HIV. A medical device gown that can prevent workers from contracting a deadly disease while at the same time maintaining its comfort requires a sophisticated manufacturing process, enabling a microscopically small weave.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , , , ,

Online Survey: Don’t Ask Me a Question, If You Don’t Want an Ethical Answer

If you’re ever feeling a little bored while waiting for your number to be called at the Department of Motor Vehicles, you might want to get online and go to one of those rating websites such as Yelp.com. Do an online survey – it’s great fun. Go to a restaurant or carpet cleaning service or chiropractor and look at the reviews. Most of the reviews will tend to be “very good” or “excellent.” Every so often, there is a rating of “poor” or “average,” and invariably, there is an angry response in response to the response!

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in business ethics and tagged ,

Opioid Epidemic: Vivitrol is a Miracle Drug (at only) $12,000 per Year

For quite some time, I have followed the news items about the national tragedy of opioid dependence in our country. It is estimated that on an annual basis, up to 60,000 people are dying of opioids and opioid-related incidents. In 2015 alone, more than 33,000 opioid deaths were reported.

It does not help that the very same medications that can cause dependency can also ease pain. Anyone who has undergone surgery can appreciate what a drug such as Percocet or OxyContin can do. The trouble is that certain patients can become addicted, and the addiction can be deadly. Some physicians have been guilty in the past as well, giving out opioids without properly monitoring patients.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , ,

An Unethical Family Dynamic = a $6 million Fraud Against Uncle Sam

There are all kinds of reasons why unethical people commit fraud, but when we boil it all down, they see an opportunity and if there are no checks and balances in place, they will seize that opportunity. The outrageous expenses for defense are legendary. It is one thing to charge for an item fairly but it is quite another when a contractor chooses to defraud.  Fraud is by its very nature unethical.

In Pennsylvania, there is a small company outside of Butler named Ibis Tec LLC. The company makes, among other things, window assembly kits for the Humvee. It may not sound like much, and maybe that’s what the former executives of the company figured, but former owners (and brothers!) Thomas Buckner and John Buckner, along with the company’s former CFO Harry Kramer, put together a scheme to overcharge the government by $6 million.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in business ethics and tagged , ,

Should Ethics Apply to Alternative Cancer Treatments?

Many years ago, I knew a young woman who developed a serious type of cancer (though of course any kind of cancer is serious). She opted for alternative cancer treatments because she did not want to listen to her physicians. She did not like what they told her, and frankly she was convinced by friends that “Western Medicine was evil.” Sadly, she passed away after spending tens of thousands of dollars of her own money on cures that didn’t remotely work.  The question about alternative cancer treatments and choice raises serious ethical questions.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Skyler Johnson, who was the lead physician of the report said that patients who refuse or delay conventional treatments in favor of alternative cancer treatments are more than doubling their chances that they will succumb to the disease.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , , , ,

CVS Takes an Ethical Approach to Opioids – So What?

In an effort to reduce the deaths, both accidental and intentional caused by opioid addiction, CVS has announced major changes to its filling of prescriptions for those pharmaceuticals.  The drug store chain has announced that it will limit prescriptions to a seven-day supply. There are obvious restrictions. The “limit” applies to patients who are new to pain management therapy and not to those with chronic conditions. The type of opioid prescription covered by this rule will apparently change as well to immediate release rather than long-term (time release) opioids.

The president and CEO of CVS Health recently stated:

“With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse.”

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in business ethics and tagged , , ,

Sexual Harassment: It is Time to Outsource Congressional Ethics

It is very easy to turn this blog into a political debate. Republicans will point fingers at Democrats and visa-versa. This is not a time to debate sexual harassment in the congressional workplace. This is a time to determine why sexual harassment has risen to the forefront in congressional discussions.

Theoretically members of congress, the men and women we elect to represent us, should uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior. They are not upholding those standards. At the exact time of this writing, Thanksgiving 2017, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Conyers, another member of congress accused of sexual harassment has just been identified by Rep. Linda Sanchez. Then there is nominee Roy Moore and apparently, some comments have been made in regard to Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Joe Biden has been dragged into the allegations as well.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in ethics and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Volkswagen Ethics? The Myth of Hiding Behind a Corporation

As a society, we have a tendency to separate major corporations and the executives who work for them. This is especially true in matters of foreign corporations, where the unethical behavior of directors or managers is, at best a hazy fog. Not so fast. The tides are shifting and it should stand as a warning to executives of foreign that unethical behavior will be more aggressively prosecuted.   Volkswagen has been on the leading edge of this discussion related to their unethical behavior.

We have been carefully following the emissions cover-up at Volkswagen and up until recently the executives responsible for the unethical behavior have been kept off the stage. Just days ago, prosecutors at the Department of Justice charged six executives who worked in product development and engine development of VW have been charged.  The charges against the six executives include wire fraud, violation of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in business ethics and tagged , , , , ,

Securities Fraud: Cleaning Up the Books at a Dirty Company

Many of us are, or I should more accurately say, were familiar with North Carolina-based Swisher Hygiene. They were the large, industrial cleaning products company responsible for the sanitation of large food processing facilities, factories, stadiums and other major venues.  Now, the company has been acquired as it descended into financial ruin. Two of its executives have been convicted of securities fraud. If any case illustrates the consequences of bad choices, it is this scandal.  The executives were convicted as the result of a securities fraud scheme dating to 2011.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Fraud Pure and Simple and tagged , , ,

AIG Accounting Fraud: No Admissions, Big Fines, Bad Ethics

The former Chief Executive Officer of AIG, Maurice Greenberg and his co-defendant, Howard Smith, AIG’s former chief financial officer, reached a settlement with the State of New York in a case of accounting fraud.

The case, which took more than 10 years to adjudicate ended with the two executives agreeing to fork over $9.9 million in performance bonuses. It sounds impressive until we understand that the state had sought more than $50 million and the executives refused to admit to fraud.

The executives were accused of participating in deals aimed at fooling investors into investing in the AIG company, one of the world’s leading insurance leaders.  Accounting fraud comes in many forms.  At the settlement, the State of New York stated:

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Accounting Ethics and tagged , , ,