Health Executives Receive Only Nine Months In Prison For Killing Three People

Last week, ThinkProgress reported on a Mississippi woman who received three years in federal prison because she lied on a series of forms in order to obtain $4,367 in food stamps she needed to feed herself and her two children. Meanwhile, this happened:

According to U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis, the Synthes officials wanted to beat their competitors to market without going through the lengthy process of getting the bone cement product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So they plotted to train select surgeons in its off-label use and then have the doctors publish their findings, the judge said.

The program continued even after a patient died in surgery in Texas in 2003 and another died in California. The patients suffered sharp drops in blood pressure after the bone cement compound was injected into their spines. Synthes only halted the training after a third death in 2004.

“One adverse event should have been enough to let you know that this course was not right,” the judge said. “I can’t understand how there wasn’t a stop sign.”

Former President Michael Huggins, of West Chester, Pa., and former Senior Vice President Thomas B. Higgins, of Berwyn, were sentenced to nine months in prison. John J. Walsh, of Coatesville, the former director of regulatory and clinical affairs, was at the West Chester-based company less time and received a five-month sentence. Former Synthes Vice President Richard Bohner, of Malvern, had his sentencing postponed after his lawyer became ill in court.

So, we now living in a country where a poor woman who steals bread to feed herself and her family receives a prison sentence that is four times harsher than the one doled out to corporate executives who killed three people. The woman who lied to receive food stamps paid back the $4,367 she illegally obtained. Nothing can bring back the three lives these executives cut short.