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Published April 3, 2013 5:16 pm

Scandal impairs A.G.'s ability
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Imagine, if you can, a Utah with an attorney general so free of scandal and suspicion that, when a business comes to him for help, nobody worries that the fix might be in.

OK. So even Walt Disney's imagination wasn't that big.

An outfit called KV Pharmaceuticals met with Utah Attorney General John Swallow the other day, pleading its case that Utah's Medicaid program is breaking the law by buying a cheaper substitute for one of its products. It is a case that involves many issues: Medicaid spending, the political pull that drug-makers have and the question of whether, when it comes to life-saving prescription medicine, cheaper is better.

KV makes Makena, a drug invented a long time ago by another firm, that has been found to help prevent preterm births in certain women. But a similar concoction is whipped up in individual compounding pharmacies around Utah and, because the made-to-order doses cost maybe 1 percent of what KV's factory-produced injections go for, Medicaid clients are steered to the compounding pharmacy version.

Savings to Utah taxpayers: Some $640,000 last year.

Compounding pharmacies have produced the drug in Utah with no reported problems. But fatal flaws in drugs produced by such pharmacies elsewhere have raised red flags.

An attorney general who was above reproach might be able to settle this dispute in a way everyone could accept as fair. But, in the public eye, Swallow's resume consists primarily of soliciting money from, and trying to arrange favors for, businesses who care a lot about government regulations.

Swallow has ignored good advice that he should resign. If he won't quit, he should at least keep away from this dispute.

And that's really too bad. Because Utah deserves an attorney general who could help settle this important matter.




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