A federal jury in Baltimore has found that Ameritox, one of the nation’s largest drug screening laboratories, falsely advertised and deceived physicians about its Rx Guardian medication monitoring system.
The jury unanimously agreed with a ruling by Judge Benson Everett Legg that no urine drug test, including Rx Guardian and Rx Guardian CD, can determine whether a patient is taking the prescribed dosage of a drug.
“Any claim that a urine drug test can determine the timing or quantity of the drug taken by the patient would be literally false,” Judge Legg ruled.
The judge’s consent order states “Ameritox made literally false descriptions of facts” and the “misrepresentations actually deceive or have the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of their audience.”
(Editor’s note: A pdf file of the consent order can be found here.)
Millennium Laboratories filed a civil lawsuit against Ameritox in federal court, claiming it falsely advertised Rx Guardian from 2008 to 2012. The jury’s verdict is the latest chapter in a long running feud between the two companies – as they battle for their share of the multi-billion dollar drug test industry.
The court did not award any monetary damages to Millennium, but did order Ameritox to send a “corrective advertising” letter to all Ameritox customers and to post it on the company’s website. The ruling also prohibits Ameritox from claiming Rx Guardian can determine, verify, or confirm compliance or adherence with a prescription drug regimen.
“Millennium Laboratories sought millions in damages from the court and was awarded nothing,” said Ancelmo Lopes, Chief Executive Officer of Ameritox, who pointed out that the judge’s order covered only four advertisements the company had used to promote Rx Guardian. “It speaks volumes that the court excluded Millennium’s claims for money damages.”
On its website, Ameritox promotes Rx Guardian as “the next generation in medication monitoring” and says its gives doctors “added assurance in assessing patients’ pain medication adherence. This helps clinicians identify potential abuse, misuse or diversion of patient medication.”
“The jury’s verdict should put an end to Ameritox’s nearly decade-long practice of using false claims and advertising practices to mislead physicians into believing they could use the Rx Guardian service to determine whether their patients were taking the proper dosage of their prescribed medications, leading to damaging outcomes for patients and their physicians,” said James Slattery, CEO of Millennium Laboratories.
Slattery said patients could be wrongly labeled as non-compliant with their prescription regimen, based on the results of Rx Guardian urine tests. At the same time, patients who were abusing or misusing drugs could actually be found compliant.
“This is what makes the Rx Guardian product so dangerous,” said Slattery. “Urine drug testing provides significant clinical value in improving patient care, but only if the results of the test can be trusted. Yet for years, Ameritox lied in its advertisements by misleading doctors about its products. It hurt physicians. It hurt patients. It hurt this industry.”
In expert testimony in support of Millennium’s case, Howard A. Heit, MD, warned that false test results could cause some doctors to change the dosage of medication they were giving patients or even discharge patients from their practice.