HEALTH

Report: Arkansas considers switching PSE to Rx only

BY Michael Johnsen

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas on Friday became the fourth state this year to entertain making the popular decongestant pseudoephedrine available only by prescription.

Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City, on Feb. 18 filed House Bill 1444 in an effort to address the meth problem by rescheduling the precursor ingredient PSE from schedule V to schedule III. “We’ve got a growing epidemic in Arkansas that we can’t ignore anymore,” Wright said, as reported by the Arkansas News. “Meth is killing us as a state. It has wide-reaching, detrimental effects on children, families and law enforcement.”

Wright suggested the prescription-only PSE law in neighboring Mississippi is driving meth addicts into Arkansas in search of PSE-containing products.

Tennessee, which shares a border with both Mississippi and Arkansas, is considering similar legislation.

The three other states with which Arkansas shares a border — Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana — have an electronic tracking system in place. Missouri and Louisiana both employ a multi-state database through the National Precursor Log Exchange.

Sen. Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia, who owns a pharmacy, stands opposed to Wright’s bill, the Arkansas News reported.

Arkansas already utilizes LeadsOnLabs to help electronically track the sale of PSE statewide. The state instituted the LeadsOnLabs system statewide in an attempt to eradicate meth abuse in the state in 2008, under the direction of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. The system has been credited with helping law enforcement bust meth labs and track down meth abusers across the state.

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Task force takes down Medicare fraud schemes

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Medicare Fraud Strike Force on Thursday charged 111 defendants in nine cities — including doctors, nurses and healthcare company owners and executives — for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billing. The operation marks the largest federal healthcare-fraud takedown.

“Over the last two years, our joint efforts have more than quadrupled the number of anti-fraud Strike Force teams operating in fraud hot spots around the country from two to nine, … bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Last year alone, our partnership recovered a record $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers. From 2008 to 2010, every dollar the federal government spent under its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80.”

Many of the cases involved bilking Medicare out of monies for durable medical equipment. False billings for home health care and prescription drugs also were prevalent.

Also on Thursday, the Department of Justice and HHS announced the expansion of Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations to two additional cities — Dallas and Chicago.

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Former Clorox executive named CEO at Schiff Nutrition International

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — Schiff Nutrition International on Friday named Tarang Amin CEO, president and director, effective March 7. Amin will replace Bruce Wood, CEO, president and director, who is retiring.

“Bruce has provided invaluable leadership during his tenure. His focus on quality products, brand reputation and his passion for our industry has been instrumental in our success, and he leaves the company with a solid foundation for growth,” stated Eric Weider, Schiff chairman. “Tarang has a demonstrated track record of creating value and driving growth in his leadership roles at world-class consumer product companies, including Clorox and Procter & Gamble.”

Amin, 45, brings 20 years of consumer products experience to Schiff. Most recently he served as VP/GM of The Clorox Co., where he grew the litter, food and charcoal strategic business units from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion in sales. In this position, he was responsible for the leadership and profit-and-loss of a brand portfolio that included Kingsford, Hidden Valley and Fresh Step. He also served in VP roles leading cleaning division marketing and global health and wellness.

Prior to joining Clorox, Amin worked for 12 years at Procter & Gamble, where he held management positions in beauty care and family care. Amin holds a bachelor’s degree in international policy and a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University.

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