“January 3, 2000 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Recent developments prove that the feds are serious about healthcare fraud and abuse! Sentencing was announced last month for the two Columbia/HCA hospital executives convicted last July 2 on charges of conspiring to defraud Medicare and other government healthcare programs. On December 22, the judge sentenced Jay Jarrell, 43, to 33 months of jail, a $10,000 fine and restitution of $1.7 million. This follows the December 3 sentencing of fellow executive Robert Whiteside, 48. Whiteside was handed a two-year jail sentence and ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 and restitution of $645,796 to the healthcare programs.

ADD TO: CONVICTIONS

Prosecutors convicted the two men of cheating government health plans out of $3.5 million. Stiff jail sentences send a clear signal to all healthcare executives. If fraud and abuse can be proven, prosecutors will recommend prison. In retrospect, lab execs involved in Labscam cases during the 1990s may have been lucky that they avoided jail.

BECKMAN COULTER MOVES TOWARD PHARMACOGENOMICS

Recognizing the market potential attached to pharmacogenomics research, Beckman Coulter, Inc. announced a technology partnership with Third Wave Technologies, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin. The companies will pair Third Wave’s Invader® DNA/ RNA analysis technology with Beckman Coulter’s SAGIAN® high throughput platform. The finished product will speed research into single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Beckman Coulter’s automated platform is capable of performing 100,000 Invader reactions per day.

MORE ON: SNPS

SNPs are differences in an individual’s genetic code. These variations from person to person are believed to be why some people are more susceptible to disease than others. Of equal interest to drug companies, it is believed that SNP differences between individuals are responsible for their responsiveness to therapeutics. Pathologists affiliated with Detroit’s St. John Health System recently sold their practice to AmeriPath, Inc. of Riviera Beach, Florida. There are 13 pathologists affiliated with J.J. Humes, M.D. and Associates, P.C. The group practice serves three hospitals and the St. John outreach laboratory. This is AmeriPath’s first foray into Michigan.

It’s a second patent for Associated Pathologists Laboratories (APL) in Las Vegas, Nevada. (See TDR, July 19, 1999). The United States Patent Office granted the patent covering APL’s “unique method of detecting drugs of abuse in hair samples.” The patent protects APL’s unique method of detecting marijuana in hair samples. The APL process uses enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) technology. Among other benefits, APL’s hair-based drug screen avoids the increasingly common problem of a patient adulterating his/her urine specimen at time of collection to interfere with the lab’s analysis of the specimen.

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