A pill-pushing opioid manufacturer paid a medical software company to place pop-ups suggesting that doctors prescribe opiates into software designed to manage medical records.
The software company, Practice Fusion Inc. agreed to a $145 million settlement with the government for their part in encouraging doctors to prescribe opioids. This settlement clears the software company of any criminal or civil liability.
Court documents show the company both solicited and received kickbacks from an unnamed major pharmaceutical manufacturer to suggest doctors prescribe opioids. When medical personnel entered data into electronic records, they received a notice to ask about pain levels in patients. Then, a pop-up would suggest prescribing opioid medications.
Practice Fusion allowed pharmaceutical companies to help design the alerts, decide when doctors received alerts, and even work on the language in the alerts. All of this happened between 2014 and 2019, long after the devastating effects of the over-prescription of opioids were widely known.
Practice Fusion solicited money from pharmaceutical companies by saying that placement in their software increased the number of prescriptions. The company was also accused of falsely obtaining certification of their software by hiding the secret deal and other issues from the government.
“Practice Fusion’s conduct is abhorrent. During the height of the opioid crisis, the company took a million-dollar kickback to allow an opioid company to inject itself in the sacred doctor-patient relationship so that it could peddle even more of its highly addictive and dangerous opioids,” said Christina E. Nolan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont. “The companies illegally conspired to allow the drug company to have its thumb on the scale at precisely the moment a doctor was making incredibly intimate, personal, and important decisions about a patient’s medical care, including the need for pain medication and prescription amounts.
Keywords: opioid manufacturer medical software company