Asthma is a serious lung disease

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 If you or your child has asthma, you are not alone. About 23 million people in the United States suffer from asthma. Asthma is the leading cause of disease is of long duration in children.

We are all responsible for protecting the conditions that determine a good level of health for our family and our community. Education is the basis for creating health-promoting environments for all.

At present, we have at our disposal a wealth of information about asthma. Hence, both the parents and the people who are caring for children play an important role in the transmission of knowledge, and changing lifestyle of the family.

Since the EPA is committed to educating all people about asthma, then you will find useful information that will help you more effectively control asthma.

What are the environmental factors that cause asthma?

Asthma can be triggered by allergens or irritants that are common in our homes.The most common factors are:

Smoke snuff

Asthma can be caused by smoke from a cigarette butt, pipe or cigar and also by the smoke exhaled by a smoker.

  • Choose not to smoke in your home or car or allow others to do so.

Dust mites

Dust mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but are in every home.They live in mattresses, pillows, carpets, furniture fabric wallpaper, bedspreads, clothes and stuffed toys.

  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water.
  • Choose soft toys that are washable, and wash them often in hot water, drying them completely. Keep these toys off beds.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows with covers that prevent the passage of dust (allergen impermeable) having a closure.


Skin flakes emerging from domestic animals, urine and saliva may trigger asthma.

  • Consider keeping pets out of the house or finding a new home if necessary.
  • Keep your pets all the time outside the bedroom or any other area that is used for sleeping and keep the doors shut.
  • Keep pets off the furniture with tapestry fabric, carpets and stuffed toys.

Learn more at 


Mold grows in damp places or materials. The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, clean and remove excess water or moisture. Reducing moisture also helps reduce other factors that cause asthma, such as cockroaches.

  • Wash mold off hard surfaces and dry completely. Absorbents, such as tile roofs and carpets, if they rust, should probably be removed or replaced materials.
  • Make any water leaks in the pipes and pipes and other sources of water supply.
  • Keep drip pans in your refrigerator, air conditioner and dehumidifier environments, clean and dry.
  • Use exhaust fans or open windows hold while cooking or when using the dishwasher.
  • Use exhaust fans in the bathrooms while showering.
  • Place the exhaust in a clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Keep the humidity inside the house at a low level, 30 to 50 percent relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers which can be purchased at hardware stores.


Droppings or excretions of cockroaches can trigger asthma.

  • Do not leave food or garbage out environmental exposure.
  • Store food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Clean all food waste or spilled liquids immediately.
  • First try to control cockroaches using poison baits, boric acid or traps before using pesticide sprays.

If sprays are used:

  • Limit yourself to use only in infested areas.
  • Carefully follow the instructions found on product labels.
  • Ensure that enough fresh air when you spray and keep the person with asthma out of the home.

Preventing asthma attacks

Visit To make an asthma action plan, tips on how to manage asthma and get a copy of the popular activity book “Dusty the Goldfish”.
  • Step 1: Talk to your doctor about your child’s asthma. If your child has asthma or you think your child has this disease, take your child to a doctor.The doctor will work with you to ensure that your child has an asthma attack.
    • Learn what causes asthma in your child.
    • Identify your asthma triggers in your home are.
    • Learn how to rid your home the factors that cause asthma.
    • Know what your child should take medication.
  • Step 2: Make a plan. Ask your doctor to help you create an individual action plan to control your child’s asthma. Work with your doctor to create a plan of action to help you learn how to prevent asthma attacks your child regularly.
  • Step 3 - Make your home resistant asthma. The factors that cause asthma are part of our daily lives. Asthma attacks can be caused by mold growing on the shower curtain in the bathroom, dust mites living in blankets or blankets, the pillows and stuffed toys of your child. Learn more about the things that can cause an asthma attack and what you can do to eliminate them and keep your child healthy.

Tools Program Indoor Air Quality for Schools

EPA has developed a program of Air Quality Tools for Schools Interior to reduce exposure to environmental contaminants in them through the voluntary adoption of practices to manage indoor air quality.

IAQ Tools for Schools Program

The “program IAQ Tools for Schools “is a detailed to help maintain a healthy environment in school buildings by identifying, correcting and preventing problems of air quality resource.Poor indoor air quality in schools can affect the comfort and health of students and staff, which in turn can affect concentration, attendance, and student performance. In addition, if the school takes to react promptly as poor air quality, students and staff are at increased risk of health problems in the short term, such as fatigue and nausea, as well as problems long-term health such as asthma. Read more about it and download or order a kit action ” IAQ Tools for Schools “.

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What can you do to stay healthy and prevent disease? You can be certain diagnostic tests, take preventive medicine if needed, and have healthy habits.

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Health experts who lead the Preventive Services Task Force of the United States (US Preventive Services Task Force) advise that when you go to your next checkup, ask your doctor or nurse about how to stay healthy no matter the age.

Some tests can make in the office, such as measuring blood pressure. Others, such as mammograms, need special equipment, so maybe I should go to a different place.They call screening those seeking disease before symptoms. Measurements of blood pressure and mammograms are examples of screenings.

After a screening test, ask when you can see the results and who can explain them.

Breast cancer. ask your doctor if you should have a mammogram, considering his age, family history, general health and personal concerns.

Cervical cancer. Make a pap smear (“Pap smear”) every 1-3 years if you are between 21 and 65 years old and have been sexually active. If you are over 65 and their last Pap tests were normal, and no need to have the tests. If you had a hysterectomy for a reason other than cancer, do not need a Pap smear.

Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. sexually transmitted diseases can make it difficult to get pregnant affect the baby and cause other health problems.

  • Get tested for chlamydia if you are 24 or younger and sexually active. If you are over 24, ask your doctor if you need to get tested for chlamydia.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse if you should be tested for other STDs.

Colorectal cancer. Become a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Perhaps the need to do before, if there have been cases of colorectal cancer in their family. There are several tests for this cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which is best for you.

Depression. Their emotional health is as important as your physical health. Ask your doctor if you need to get tested for depression, especially during the last two weeks:

  • Have you felt discouraged, sad or depressed.
  • He has lost interest or pleasure in doing things.

Diabetes. yourself tested for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or taking medicine for high blood pressure.

Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

High blood pressure. Starting from 18, the blood pressure should be measured every 2 years at least. A blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high. High blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack, kidney problems or eyes, and heart failure.

. High Cholesterol From 20 years of age, cholesterol should be regularly assessed if:

  • You consume snuff.
  • Are you obese.
  • Have diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Have a personal history of heart disease or clogged arteries.
  • Within his family happened a heart attack in a man before age 50 or a woman before 60 years.

. HIV Ask your doctor about HIV screening if any of the following concerns:

  • He has had unprotected sex with multiple people.
  • Injected drugs.
  • Offers sex for money or drugs or have sex with people who do.
  • Have or had a sexual partner infected with HIV or who is bisexual or inject drugs.
  • He is being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
  • He received a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
  • Have any other concern.

Osteoporosis (loss of bone density). At age 65, get tested to assess the strength of your bones. If you are under 65, ask your doctor whether you should be tested.

Overweight and obesity. The best way to know if you are overweight or obese is to calculate your body mass index (BMI, for its acronym in English). To get it, enter your height and weight into a BMI calculator like the one found at Link to Exit Disclaimer (available in English). A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight.People with a BMI of 30 or higher may be obese. If you are obese, ask your doctor or nurse how to get intensive counseling and help to change their habits and thus lose weight. Overweight and obesity can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It’s your body!
You know your body better than anyone. Always tell your doctor or nurse of any changes in your health, including sight and hearing. Have them test you for any condition that concerns you; not only mentioned here. If you want to know about diseases like glaucoma or cancer of the skin, for example, ask about them.

Take preventive medicines if you need them

Aspirin. If you are 55 or older, ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent stroke.

Drugs against breast cancer. If your mother, sister or daughter has had breast cancer, ask your doctor about taking medication to prevent this cancer.

Estrogen for menopause (hormone replacement therapy). should not use estrogen to prevent heart disease or other diseases. If you need relief from the symptoms of menopause, talk with your doctor.


  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • If you are 65 or older get vaccinated against pneumonia.
  • Depending on health problems, you may need a pneumonia shot at a younger age or be vaccinated against diseases such as whooping cough or herpes zoster (shingles).
  • Ask your health care team if you need any vaccinations. You can also find out what you need in: (available in English).

Change for good health

Physically active and choose healthy foods. Learn how to (English only).

Reach your right and hold weight. Seek a balance between the calories you take in with food and drinks, and you burn with physical activity.

Do not smoke. ‘ll find tips to stop in the snuff (page in English, but with assignences to resources in Spanish). If you want to talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline (free national hotline): 1-800 QUITNOW (784-8669).

If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day. A standard “drink” is a 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler (wine cooler ), one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor 80 ° proof distillate.

Learn more about good health

See these sites from the federal government: Guides and resources for healthy living, an encyclopedia of issues related to health, health news and more. Visit: .

MedlinePlus. Health information provided by government agencies and health organizations, including a medical encyclopedia and health resources. Visit: .

If you have access to a computer, ask your librarian for the health information available at the local library.

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It is clear what it means to be prepared for tomorrow’s economy.

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However, our schools aren’t preparing enough of our students for that reality. Today, the United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world.

Among students who do complete high school and go on to college, nearly half demand remedial courses, and nearly half never graduate. Yet in today’s world, a college degree or advanced certificate increasingly represents the entry ticket to rewarding careers. In today’s world, our graduates will compete against the smartest young people from across the globe. But in today’s world, the United States ranks 12th in college attainment. As President Obama has said, “It is our generation’s task … to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class.” Reigniting that engine depends on education, preschool through 12th grade, strong enough to prepare all students for college, careers, and the innovation-based economy in which they will make their living.

Education Reforms: The Work Ahead

The core reforms

To meet that challenge, the Obama administration set out in 2009—amid the greatest financial crisis in generations—to put in place a set of reforms to ensure that every child in this country receives the education he or she deserves. President Obama set two ambitious goals: that the United States would once again lead the world in college completion, and that every student would receive at least one year of college or specialized training after high school. [expand/collapse]

K-12 reform

Building on this momentum, President Obama has proposed to deepen reforms through investments in strategic areas where states and school districts face key implementation challenges, and to continue substantial investments in critical formula programs that support state and local reform efforts. The President’s plan includes the following elements:

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 Although many trade schools help prepare the workforce in the United States in the jobs of the future, too many students in these schools are taking on unsustainable debt in exchange for degrees and certificates that will help them get the jobs they nee

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“These new regulations will help ensure that students at these schools get what they paid for: solid preparation for a good job,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “We will give all schools job opportunity to reform but we will not spoil them, because there are many vulnerable students are being hurt,” said Duncan.

As a demandment for participation in federal aid programs, the law demands that most for-profit programs and certificate programs in nonprofit institutions and public prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. With regulations presented today, a program is considered conducive to gainful if it meets at least one of the following three measures employment: at least 35 percent of former students are paying their loans (defined as reducing the loan balance at least $ 1), the estimated loan annual payment a typical graduate does not exceed 30 percent of their discretionary income, or the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 12 percent of total revenues. Although the regulations apply to occupational training programs in all types of institutions, for-profit schools are more likely to leave their students with unsustainable and poor employment prospects debts.

The need for reform and background

Students at for-profit institutions represent 12 percent of all students in higher education, 26 percent of all student loans and 46 percent of all student loan dollars in default. The average federal loan debt of students who earn associate degree (two years of study) in institutions for-profit (commercial) was $ 14,000, while the majority of students at community colleges (public institutions two years of study) do not borrow. More than a quarter of for-profit institutions receive 80 percent of their revenue from federal student aid funded by taxpayers.

“While for-profit schools have profited and prospered thanks to federal dollars, has not been well for some of their students. This is a disservice to students and taxpayers, and undermines the valuable work being done by the education sector for profit as a whole, “added Duncan.

Efforts to regulate the abuse by for-profit institutions date back to the Reagan administration, under the leadership of then Secretary of Education William Bennett. However, the regulations were weakened during the previous administration, which in recent years led to rapid growth in enrollment and default rates at for-profit institutions.

These problems, and the obvious waste, fraud and abuse, prompted the Obama administration to conduct negotiations for 18 months with institutions of higher education to establish new standards. During the negotiations, the Department worked with stakeholders to develop a set of proposals around 14 specific issues that strengthen program integrity of federal student aid and ensure that taxpayer funds are used appropriately. The final gainful employment regulations published today are the result of the process of two years and will take effect on July 1, 2012.

Major changes in the regulations

The new rules have taken into account the comments and concerns of the public, in order to improve the draft project previously published by the Department. The rules published today, reflecting the principles set out in the President’s recent Executive Order on improving regulation, provide students and consumers the information they need to make sound educational decisions and failed programs give ample opportunity for make the necessary reforms. From now on, the institutions shall be demandd to disclose the total cost of its programs, the rate of repayment of loans, the rate debt to income of graduates and other critical information to consumers to help students choose the program of paid employment suitable. And underperforming programs should disregard the debt measures three times in four years before losing the right to participate in federal student aid programs, rather than forfeit immediately.

The first time a program fails to meet the debt measure must disclose to students why it failed so far and how the problem will be resolved. After failing the measure of debt for the second time in four years, programs should inform students that their debts could prove unsustainable after graduation, the program is at risk of losing the right to participate in federal aid programs student, and what are the options for transfer to another institution. After a third failure in four years, it loses the right to participate in federal student aid programs and can not get help for a minimum of three years. In this framework, the first year a program could lose the right to participate would be 2015, according to its performance in FY 2012-2014.

“We asked companies to get 90 percent of their profits from taxpayer dollars, with at least an efficiency of 35 percent,” Duncan said.”This is a very reasonable bar and one that every for-profit program should be able to achieve. A program for profit underperforming give you every opportunity to improve. But if they fail three times in four years, will be eliminated, “Duncan said.

Since the final rule emphasizes the improvement of programs, the Department estimates that fewer programs will lose the right to participate in federal student aid programs with the original proposal. It is anticipated that the final rule the failure rate in for-profit programs will be slightly higher than in other institutions. The Department estimates that 18 percent of for-profit programs fail thresholds at some point, that 5 percent will not improve, and ultimately lose the right to participate. Among the programs in all institutions, approximately 8 percent threshold will fail at some point, but only 2 percent of them will be unable to improve, and thus lose their right to participate in the federal student aid.

The regulations were adopted after taking into account the views of the public, gained through broader consultations ever undertaken by the Department, including three rounds of public hearings and debates, more than 90,000 written comments, and nearly 100 meetings with the parties interested. Based on the public, the Department has amended the regulations to give the program a chance to rectify before losing their right to federal student aid.

“The Department listened carefully to the concerns, comments and different points of view of all parties with an interest in the matter,” Duncan said. “We have endeavored to ensure that the final rule protects the best possible students and taxpayers by targeting schools with the worst results and support to schools that best prepare its graduates for success in the workplace, “added Duncan.

Also today, the Department announced that it will propose measures to simplify procedures used to evaluate new gainful employment programs. In October, when the Department established a temporary process for institutions the right to establish new programs to participate in student aid, also announced that it would review these procedures upon completion of the debt measures. In brief, the Department will propose measures to reduce the burden on institutions, and make assessments based on previous results.

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I am proud to announce that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history

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Will propose an increase in total state funding for education to over $19.6 billion

Governor Rick Scott said, “I am proud to announce that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history. We already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise. Because we were able to get Florida’s economy back on track, revenues are now projected to stay at a strong enough rate to support historic investments in education.”

“Florida job growth, and the overall growth of Florida’s economy has made it possible for us invest record amounts in education.  The credit for our historic investment in education goes to the hard working people of Florida who make it all possible.”

“My mom taught me that a good education was the way out of poverty and I want all Floridians to have the opportunity to receive a great education and have their shot at the American Dream.  By increasing per pupil spending to historic levels next year, school districts will have more resources to provide Florida children the best education possible.”

The Governor’s proposal would equate to a total of over $19.6 billion, which means $7,176 per student – a $232 per student increase over this school year and a $50 increase over the 2007-08 per student funding level of $7,126, the previous record high level. Florida’s Revenue Estimating Conference for the General Revenue Fund met on August 7, 2014 and Floridians will see sustained revenues. Florida is projected to have a growth of nearly $1.1 billion over the latest 2014-15 revised forecast.

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Gov. Rick Perry has announced the state is offering $2.3 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to bring SpaceX’s commercial rocket launch facility to Cameron County. Contingent upon final approval of local agreements and receipt of additional requi

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“Texas has been on the forefront of our nation’s space exploration efforts for decades, so it is fitting that SpaceX has chosen our state as they expand the frontiers of commercial space flight,” Gov. Perry said. “In addition to growing the aerospace industry in Texas, SpaceX’s facility will provide myriad opportunities for STEM education in South Texas, and inspire a new generation of Texas engineers and innovators.”

The State of Texas and SpaceX first discussed this potential project in the spring of 2011 during a TexasOne mission to California. The governor has since met with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and provided letters in support of SpaceX’s efforts to get FAA clearance for the site. Governor’s Office staff has worked closely with local officials in South Texas throughout the process, and also testified before the FAA in support of bringing the project to Texas.

In addition to the TEF investment, the state is also offering $13 million from the Spaceport Trust Fund to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. The fund is used to support the development of infrastructure necessary for establishing a spaceport.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, and is the world’s fastest-growing provider of launch services. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in December 2010. SpaceX is also the first private company to attach a spacecraft to the International Space Station, exchange cargo payloads, and return safely to Earth – a technically challenging feat previously only accomplished by government space programs. SpaceX operates a Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas which has grown to over 250 employees since starting operations in 2003. The Brownsville facility will launch commercial satellites.

“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said. “In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area.”

Texas has a long history with both public and private spaceflight. NASA’s Johnson Space Center served as a hub for America’s human space exploration program from the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects to today’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs. Texas was also the launch site for the Conestoga 1 in 1982, one of the first privately funded rockets to reach space.

“What a historical moment for the greater Brownsville region and the State of Texas. It’s the culmination of a dream and a vision that began more than three years ago,” Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said. “We will ensure that SpaceX has everything they need in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex. The team effort would have never succeeded but for the immense support of the people of Brownsville, all of its surrounding neighbors and the state – to all of you ‘mil gracias’ and watch us soar.”

The Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and reauthorized funding in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state. TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business.

To date, the TEF has invested more than $565 million and closed the deal on projects generating nearly 76,000 jobs and more than $24 billion in capital investment in the state.

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Governor Beebe recently participated in the Welcome Home Affiliation Agreement hosted by the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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Welcome Home Affiliation Agreement Event
Governor Beebe recently participated in the Welcome Home Affiliation Agreement hosted by the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. An affiliation agreement referred to as “Welcome Home”, aims to help The Arkansas State Veterans Home at Fayetteville increase services for residents, reduce costs and upgrade facilities while helping UAMS NW expand education opportunities for students and reduce costs.
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Identity theft occurs when someone steals your name and other personal information, such as your Social Security or driver’s license numbers, and uses it without your permission.

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My identity was stolen. What should I do?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your name and other personal information, such as your Social Security or driver’s license numbers, and uses it without your permission.

What to do if Someone Steals Your Identity If you think you may be a victim of identity theft:

The FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit is a form that you can use to report information to businesses, notifying them that there is a fraudulent debt in your name. Download a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit (PDF | requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) or call the FTC’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) to get a copy. Security Freeze Some states allow you to place a “security freeze” on your credit report, which will keep businesses from issuing credit to a thief. The cost of a security freeze varies from state to state, and is not available in every state. Contact your state consumer protection office for more information about your state security freeze laws.

- See more at:

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Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history

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American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. (hereinafter together “Pfizer”) obtain agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Division of Justice, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Division announced today.

Pharmacia & Upjohn Company has agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead. Bextra is an anti-inflammatory drug that Pfizer pulled from the market in 2005. Under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a company must specify the intended uses of a product in its new drug application to FDA. Once approved, the drug may not be marketed or promoted for so-called “off-label” uses – i.e., any use not specified in an application and approved by FDA. Pfizer promoted the trade of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns. The company will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion, the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States for any matter. Pharmacia & Upjohn will also forfeit $105 million, for a total criminal resolution of $1.3 billion.

In addition, Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs—Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug—and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these, as well as other, drugs. The federal share of the civil settlement is $668,514,830 and the state Medicaid share of the civil settlement is $331,485,170. This is the largest civil fraud settlement in history against a pharmaceutical company.

As part of the settlement, Pfizer also has agreed to enter into an expansive corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Division of Health and Human Services. That agreement provides for procedures and reviews to be put in place to avoid and promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to this matter.

Whistleblower prescriptionsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act that are pending in the District of Massachusetts, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of Kentucky triggered this investigation. As a part of today’s resolution, six whistleblowers will receive payments totaling more than $102 million from the federal share of the civil recovery.

The U.S. Attorney’s offices for the District of Massachusetts, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the Civil Division of the Division of Justice handled these cases. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts led the criminal investigation of Bextra. The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General for the Division of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Office of Criminal Investigations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Veterans’ Administration’s (VA) Office of Criminal Investigations, the Office of the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service (USPS), the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the offices of various state Attorneys General.

“Today’s landmark settlement is an example of the Division of Justice’s ongoing and intensive efforts to protect the American public and recover funds for the federal treasury and the public from those who seek to earn a profit through fraud. It shows one of the many ways in which federal government, in partnership with its state and local allies, can help the American people at a time when budgets are tight and health care costs are increasing,” said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. “This settlement is a testament to the type of broad, coordinated effort amid federal agencies and with our state and local partners that is at the core of the Division of Justice’s approach to prescription enforcement.”

“This historic settlement will return nearly $1 billion to Medicare, Medicaid, and other government insurance programs, securing their future for the Americans who depend on these programs,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Division of Health and Human Services. “The Division of Health and Human Services will continue to seek opportunities to work with its government partners to prosecute fraud wherever we can find it. But we will also look for new ways to prevent fraud before it passs. Health care is too important to let a single dollar go to waste.”

“Illegal conduct and fraud by pharmaceutical companies puts the public health at risk, corrupts medical decisions by health care providers, and costs the government billions of dollars,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. “This civil settlement and plea agreement by Pfizer represent yet another example of what penalties will be faced when a pharmaceutical company puts profits ahead of patient welfare.”

“The size and seriousness of this resolution, incorporating the huge criminal fine of $1.3 billion, reflect the seriousness and scope of Pfizer’s crimes,” said Mike Loucks, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “Pfizer violated the prescription over an extensive time period. Furthermore, at the very same time Pfizer was in our office negotiating and resolving the allegations of criminal conduct by its then newly acquired subsidiary, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer was itself in its other operations violating those very same prescriptions. Today’s enormous fine demonstrates that such blatant and continued disregard of the prescription will not be tolerated.”

“Although these types of investigations are often long and complicated and require many resources to achieve positive products, the FBI will not be deterred from continuing to ensure that pharmaceutical companies conduct business in a prescriptionful manner,” said Kevin Perkins, FBI Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division.

“This resolution protects the FDA in its vital mission of ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. When manufacturers undermine the FDA’s rules, they interfere with a doctor’s judgment and can put patient health at risk,” commented Michael L. Levy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “The public trusts companies to market their drugs for uses that FDA has approved, and trusts that doctors are using independent judgment. Federal health dollars should only be spent on treatment decisions untainted by misinformation from manufacturers concerned with the bottom line.”

“This settlement demonstrates the ongoing efforts to pursue violations of the False Claims Act and recover taxpayer dollars for the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” noted Jim Zerhusen, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

“This historic settlement emphasizes the government’s commitment to corporate and individual accountability and to transparency throughout the pharmaceutical industry,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the United States Division of Health and Human Services. “The corporate integrity agreement requires senior Pfizer executives and board members to complete annual compliance certifications and opens Pfizer to more public scrutiny by requiring it to make detailed disclosures on its Web site. We await this agreement to increment integrity in the marketing of pharmaceuticals.”

“The off-label promotion of pharmaceutical drugs by Pfizer significantly clashed the integrity of TRICARE, the Division of Defense’s healthcare system,” said Sharon Woods, Director, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. “This illegal activity increments patients’ costs, threatens their safety and negatively affects the delivery of healthcare services to the over nine million military members, retirees and their families who rely on this system. Today’s charges and settlement demonstrate the ongoing commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its prescription enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those that abuse the government’s healthcare programs at the expense of the taxpayers and patients.”

“Federal employees deserve health care providers and suppliers, incorporating drug manufacturers, that meet the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior,” said Patrick E. McFarland, Inspector General of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. “Today’s settlement reminds the pharmaceutical industry that it must observe those standards and reflects the commitment of federal prescription enforcement organizations to pursue improper and illegal conduct that places health care consumers at risk.”

“Health care fraud has a significant financial clash on the Postal Service. This case alone clashed more than 10,000 postal employees on workers’ compensation who were treated with these drugs,” said Joseph Finn, Special Agent in Charge for the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General. “Last year the Postal Service paid more than $1 billion in workers’ compensation benefits to postal employees injured on the job.”

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FDA takes action against New York cheese manufacturer  Company failed to correct violations despite federal, state warnings

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking a federal court to prevent a New York cheese manufacturer from operating because of a history of unsanitary conditions and producing cheese in a facility contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

According to a complaint for permanent injunction filed by the U.S. Division of Justice, Mexicali Cheese of Woodhaven, N.Y., and two of its officers, Edinson Vergara and Claudia Marin, produced cheese under persistent unsanitary conditions that contributed to widespread Listeria monocytogenes contamination in Mexicali Cheese’s facility.

In addition, the complaint, filed January 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, says that the New York State Division of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services found similar unsanitary conditions in addition to product contamination.

Mexicali Cheese makes and distributes a variety of soft Mexican cheeses to grocery stores and supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Mexicali Cheese’s products encompass queso fresco [fresh cheese], queso oaxaca [Oaxacan cheese] and queso para freir [cheese for frying].

If entered by the court, the injunction would stop the company and its officers from manufacturing and distributing food until they can bring their operations into full compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA food safety regulations.

“FDA filed this complaint to protect the health of consumers,” said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Working closely with New York’s Division of Agriculture and Markets, we took this step to ensure that consumers do not eat potentially dangerous foods from this company.”

Consumers can report problems with FDA-regulated products to their district office consumer complaint coordinator.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Division of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

For more information:

Warning Letter, October 27, 2010

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