Citizens' Issues
CBI questions P Chidambaram in Maxis-Aircel deal investigation

P Chidambaram's questioning was in relation to his inappropriate clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal, which he was not authorised to clear, according to the CBI


A PTI report said that CBI examined former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to Rs3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.
The Finance Minister was competent for giving sanction only up to Rs600 crore and the Aircel-Maxis deal was way above that limit. The CBI had sought to examine ex-FM Chidambaram in this regard.
A deal of this size could only have been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by the Prime Minister and yet Chidambaram did not refer the deal to the CCEA.
When contacted, Chidambaram told PTI “they (CBI) took a brief statement from me on the FIPB approval. I repeated what I said in my press statement earlier. Nothing more than that.”
Chidambaram had said in September that the file regarding the case was put up before him by officials and he had approved it "in the normal course."
“In the Aircel-Maxis case, the FIPB sought the approval of the Finance Minister in accordance with the rules. The case was submitted through the Additional Secretary and Secretary, DEA. Both of them recommended the case for approval. Approval was granted by me, as Finance Minister, in the normal course”, Chidambaram had said in the statement.
He had said “I understand that the officials of FIPB who dealt with the matter have explained to the CBI that under the rules, as they stood then, the case required only the approval of the Finance Minister.”


FTC puts brakes on deceptive advertising in auto ads

With sliding auto sales among millenials and a looming holiday season, deceptive advertising in auto ads is bound to see an uptick


While consumers’ heads were a-spinning, important information went a-hiding. As a result, a car dealership chain in the Midwest has agreed to pay $3,60,000 to settle charges of deceptive advertising and consumers are reminded what to look out for in auto ads before they head down to the dealership.

Billion Auto and its affiliated advertising company used a barrage of “multi-sensory effects,” such as the rapid-fire transitions featured in the TV commercial embedded above, to deflect consumers’ attention away from crucial terms disclosed in the fine print, the FTC said in its complaint. Those terms included how low monthly payments were only tied to leases and not sales; how discounts were harder to come by than advertised; and how several offers carried significant added costs.


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As Controlled Substance Use Rises in Medicare, Prolific Prescribers Face More Scrutiny

Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011. The program’s top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges related to their medical practices.


Despite a national crackdown on prescription drug abuse, doctors churned out an ever-larger number of prescriptions for the most-potent controlled substances to Medicare patients, new data shows.

In addition, ProPublica found, the most prolific prescribers of such drugs as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and Ritalin often have worrisome records.

In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, Medicare covered nearly 27 million prescriptions for powerful narcotic painkillers and stimulants with the highest potential for abuse and dependence. That's up 9 percent over 2011, compared to a 5 percent increase in Medicare prescriptions overall. Even taking into account an increase in the number of Medicare enrollees, the prescribing rate rose slightly for these drugs, which are classified as Schedule 2 controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Twelve of Medicare's top 20 prescribers of Schedule 2 drugs in 2012 have faced disciplinary actions by their state medical boards or criminal charges related to their medical practices, and another had documents seized from his office by federal agents.

The No. 1 prescriber — Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal of Huntsville, Ala., with more than 14,000 Schedule 2 prescriptions in 2012 — had his controlled substances certificate suspended by the state medical board in March 2013. He surrendered his medical license four months later. (Aggarwal could not be reached for comment.)

Prescribing high volumes of Schedule 2 drugs can indicate a doctor is running a pill mill, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a New York-based drug treatment provider. Government regulators should do more to monitor prescribing patterns and intervene proactively if they appear aberrant, he said.

"We wait 'til these doctors kill people," said Kolodny, founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, which advocates for tighter regulation of painkillers. "It doesn't make any sense."

Medicare's drug program, known as Part D, now covers about 38 million seniors and disabled people and pays for more than one of every four prescriptions dispensed in this country. Concerns about oversight of controlled substances date back to at least 2011, when the Government Accountability Office highlighted abuse of opioids in Part D and called on Medicare to take action.

Within the past year, Medicare has started to use prescribing data to identify potentially problematic doctors, as have some state medical boards. Beginning in mid-2015, Medicare will have the authority to kick doctors out of the program if they prescribe in abusive ways.

 "It's a real area of concern for us," said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, director of the Center for Program Integrity within the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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