Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
January 4, 2018
Upcoming Events
2018 CWAG Chair's Initiative
May 3-4, 2018
Scottsdale, Arizona
CWAG Chair, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, announces his 2018 CWAG Chair's Initiative, which will focus on cyber security, data privacy, and digital piracy. Please mark your calendars and prepare to engage in a dialogue on these important topics!

Building on CWAG's Cyber Security efforts in 2016 and 2017 at the Cyber Security and Technology Forums and the Cyber Security Working Group established in June 2017, General Brnovich's Initiative will feature an in-depth conversation to discuss financial technology and government and industry cooperation, vertical integration and platform development issues, encryption and data security issues facing public, private and law enforcement along with national and international privacy concerns.

To find complete details about hotel accommodations, suggested transportation and to register online, use the following link CWAG 2018 Chair's Initiative Registration Site. To register click on the "Register" link and enter your name, last name and email address, then select your registration type.

If you are an existing sponsor you may use the registration code that was provided to you to register for the Annual Meeting. If you need your code re-sent, please contact Event Coordinator and Meeting Manager Ale Stephens at astephens@cwagweb.org or 303.304.9206.
Virtual Seminar: Combating Rising Drug Prices for Seniors: Understanding the Different Markets for Brand Drugs and Generics
Kansas Attorney General and NAAG President Derek Schmidt invite attorney general staff and all interested parties to join in a webinar titled, "Combating Rising Drug Prices for Seniors: Understanding the Different Markets for Brand Drugs and Generics."

The rising cost of prescription drugs is a concern for health care policymakers and consumers, seniors in particular. This webinar will discuss prescription drug pricing and accessibility of drugs for seniors along the price continuum from generics to brand name drugs.
Webinar Details:
Date: Tuesday January 9, 2018
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Central Standard Time
Location: Online. Please register to gain access to the webinar link.

Moderator :
Derek Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General and NAAG President

Panelists :
Jeff Francer, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Association of Accessible Medicines
Kipp Snider, Vice President – State Advocacy, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ( PhRMA ) 


Senior Citizens and High Drug Costs
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Expensive Specialty Drugs Are Forcing Seniors To Make Hard Choices
There is a growing problem with Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors who take high-priced specialty drugs: There is no cap on how much they pay. Each prescription drug plan is structured a little differently, but people with very high drug costs almost inevitably enter what's called the “catastrophic” phase of coverage. Then, they pay 5 percent of the list price of their drug, no small sum in an age of $10,000-a-month cancer drugs. For example, for 23 years, Diane Whitcraft injected herself every other day with Betaseron, a drug that helps prevent flare-ups from multiple sclerosis. The drug worked well, drastically reducing Whitcraft's trips to the hospital. But as her 65th birthday approached last September, she made a scary decision: to halt the medication altogether. With health insurance through her job, Whitcraft had paid a $50 or $100 monthly co-pay for the drug; she hadn't even realized that the price of Betaseron had soared to more than $86,000 a year. Shopping around for drug coverage through Medicare, the out-of-pocket costs were mind-boggling: close to $7,000 annually.
Drug Firm Will Charge $850,000 for Vision-Loss Gene Therapy
Spark Therapeutics Inc. said it would charge $850,000 a patient for a pioneering new treatment for a hereditary form of vision loss, below the $1 million price tag the company had considered, but still a milestone for ever-rising drug prices in the U.S. To address concerns about the cost of the drug, Luxturna, Spark said it is offering alternative payment arrangements to health insurers, including partial refunds if a patient’s vision doesn’t improve significantly after treatment. The company also is seeking U.S. government clearance to allow insurers to spread out payments for Luxturna in installments. U.S. regulators approved Luxturna last month, making it the first therapy in the U.S. to deliver a functional gene to replace a faulty disease-causing one. The injected gene therapy treats a rare form of vision loss caused by an inherited genetic mutation, and it improved vision in a high proportion of patients in clinical testing. Spark intends it as a one-time treatment, though researchers don’t know how long the benefit will last.
Suicide Prevention
Focus Group Will Study Trends and Trigger Factors
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado announced that her office plans to help fund a task force that will gather feedback from students, parents, school administrators, nonprofit leaders, community leaders, law enforcement and social services workers in La Plata, Pueblo, El Paso and Mesa counties about risk and protective factors for a five-month study next year around youth suicide prevention. These counties were selected for funding because they have the highest suicide rates in the state, according to a new release. The study was inspired by the rise in students reporting threats of suicide to Safe2Tell, a statewide anonymous hotline that students can use to report concerns about their safety or the safety of others. Attorney General Coffman said, “If we are supporting the entire community with protective factors, it can go much farther in prevention. We want to leave each community with a document and human interaction to explain what we’ve found, so communities feel that they have a plan going forward.”

Human Trafficking
Utah SECURE Strikeforce Brings Predator To Justice
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah announced the guilty plea and sentencing of Quinlen Atkinson to human trafficking. Atkinson pled guilty to Human Trafficking, a second degree felony. Atkinson was arrested and charged by the Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force last year as part of its ongoing commitment to eradicate human trafficking in Utah. He will serve up to fifteen years in prison. “Exploiting and abusing young people in this way is one of the most repulsive acts imaginable,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I want to thank the brave men and women of our Attorney General’s Office, especially Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong who brought the charges and to our elite investigative unit, the Utah SECURE Strikeforce, for bringing this predator to justice. I also want to invite the community’s prayers on behalf of the victims and their families for a recovery that will help them reclaim their lives and their innocence."

Fighting Sexual Predators
New Online Ad Campaign Targets Teens Ages 13-17
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico launched a new ad campaign targeting New Mexico teenagers and parents with children under eighteen in an effort to combat sexual predators. The ad, titled “Monsters,” reminds New Mexicans that monsters behind their computer, tablet or phone screen really do exist in the form of sexual predators seeking to abuse children and teens. The ad can be found at www.facebook.com/NMAttorneyGeneral/ and is sponsored in order to specifically reach New Mexico teenagers ages 13-17 and parents with children under eighteen years of age years on Facebook. “There is no higher priority of the Office of the Attorney General than to protect our children and families in New Mexico from violent, sexual predators,” said Attorney General Balderas. “Parents and teens must be on guard for these sexual predators online and should report any solicitations or suspicious behavior to our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.”

Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement
California’s Racial And Identity Profiling Advisory Board Releases First Annual Report
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California announced that California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board released its first annual report. The report is required by Assembly Bill 953 (AB 953), the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, and represents the first statewide report in California on racial and identity profiling in law enforcement. The report provides baseline information about existing policies and practices to prevent racial and identity profiling and sets the agenda and vision for the future work of the Board. This year’s report is accompanied by a video that illustrates the purpose of the RIPA Board and highlights the work that has been accomplished to date. “The RIPA Board’s work is critical to ensuring public safety and effective law enforcement-community relations,” said Attorney General Becerra. “From experiencing a police stop as a young man, to sitting down with family members of individuals who have lost their lives, and working today with our men and women who wear the badge and strive to keep us safe, I can tell you this work is crucial for us to get right. I applaud the RIPA Board on its tremendous efforts to address racial and identity profiling in California. The Board’s commitment is evident in this report. At the California Department of Justice, we are honored to have been a part of this process and to continue to lead efforts on this front.”

Marijuana
More Pregnant Women Are Using Pot, Study Finds

A study just published in JAMA found that marijuana use among pregnant women in Kaiser Permanente Northern California has been rising substantially. For the study, Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed questionnaire answers and laboratory results from 279,457 pregnant women over an 8 year period. They found that from 2009 to 2016, marijuana use rose from 4.2% to 7.1% for all pregnant women. The jump was significantly greater for those under 25 years old with the numbers going from 12.5% to 21.8% among those under age 18 and 9.8% to 19.0% among those 18 to 24 years old. Moreover, many state and federal agency websites do not even include warnings against marijuana use during pregnancy, as demonstrated by a study conducted by University of Pittsburgh researchers and published in the January 2017 issue of Substance Abuse.

More Banks Are Welcoming Marijuana Businesses, Federal Data Shows

A steadily growing number of banks are willing to open accounts for marijuana businesses, according to new federal data. Even as a string of conflicting signals from the Trump administration surrounds the debate about legalization with uncertainty, the number of depository institutions that are actively banking the cannabis industry has increased roughly 18% since the beginning of 2017. Last January, 340 financial services providers were banking marijuana businesses. That number rose to 400 by the end of September, according to a report released late last month by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). 

Consumer Protection
76,000 Arizonans to Receive $4.6 Million in Theranos Refund Checks
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced $4.6 million in refund checks will be mailed to every Arizonan who purchased a Theranos blood test. Between 2013 and 2016, Theranos sold thousands of blood tests in Arizona. According to Theranos, 10 percent of the tests were voided or corrected. Each customer will now be reimbursed the full amount the consumer paid for testing regardless of whether the results were voided or corrected. In April 2017, Theranos, Inc. agreed to pay $4.6 million dollars in consumer restitution as part of a consent judgment reached with the Attorney General’s Office. The average refund per person is $60.92. More than 76,000 checks will be mailed. “We were not going to settle with Theranos until we got a full refund for every Arizonan who paid for a blood test,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “Our office is proactive and aggressive in protecting Arizona consumers, and these refund checks are proof that we are going to go after companies that violate Arizona consumer protection laws." Arizona consumers will receive a full refund including one consumer who paid more than $3,400 for testing. 

AG Ferguson Files Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against For-Profit Value Village

CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced a consumer protection lawsuit against the for-profit company that owns Value Village, alleging Bellevue-based TVI, Inc. has deceived thousands of Washington consumers and donors for more than a decade. The company is the largest for-profit thrift retailer in the world, generating more than $1 billion in annual revenue. It runs 330 stores worldwide and 20 Value Village stores in Washington state. The complaint contains numerous photos of actual advertisements used in Washington, and details the widespread deception created by Value Village’s aggressive marketing campaign. The numerous alleged deceptions mainly involve misleading consumers and donors to believe that all types of donations and purchases benefitted charity, and creating the impression that Value Village itself is a non-profit or charity. “If a for-profit company asked you to donate your couch so it could donate zero dollars to charity, you might think twice and decide to donate your couch to an actual charitable organization,” Attorney General Ferguson said. “Value Village made millions by deceiving consumers and donors.” 

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