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Johnson & Johnson Hit with Federal Kickback Charges

Johnson & Johnson is facing charges that it paid kickbacks to Omnicare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, in order to push drugs like Risperdal and Levaquin at the chain’s facilities. According to allegations contained in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorneys office in Boston, from 1999 to 2004 Johnson & Johnson […]

Johnson & Johnson is facing charges that it paid kickbacks to Omnicare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, in order to push drugs like <"https://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/risperdal">Risperdal and <"https://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/levaquin">Levaquin at the chain’s facilities. According to allegations contained in a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorneys office in Boston, from 1999 to 2004 Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to Omnicare in a variety of forms, including rebates, grants and educational funding.

The complaint charges that Johnson & Johnson was aware that Omnicare pharmacists made recommendations to physicians about what drugs should be prescribed to home residents. The complaint repeatedly mentions internal Johnson & Johnson e-mails and statements detailing the relationship with Omnicare. The government claims that those documents show that Johnson & Johnson came to see Omnicare pharmacists as an extension of its sales force.

According to the complaint, while Johnson & Johnson was allegedly paying kickbacks, Omnicare’s annual purchases of Johnson & Johnson drugs nearly tripled to more than $280 million. For example:

*From September 2001 the market share of the antibiotic Levaquin’s increased to 66.4 percent from 19.2 percent at the end of 1998. At the same time, a similar antibiotic made by a different firm, Cipro, plunged to around 28 percent, from 80 percent.

*Use of Johnson & Johnson’s antipsychotic Risperdal nearly tripled during the five-year-period it received payments from the drugmaker. Prosecutors claim Risperdal was used to control anxiety among patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, an off-label use of the drug. Drug makers are prohibited by law from promoting off-label uses.

Prosecutors allege that Johnson & Johnson’s conduct caused false or fraudulent claims to be filed with Medicaid, the public health program for the poor and disabled.

As we reported previously, in November, Omnicare agreed to pay $98 million to settle charges related to the alleged Johnson & Johnson kickback scheme. As part of the settlement, Omnicare entered into a corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The claims against Johnson & Johnson were initiated by whistleblowers who could receive a share of any money the government collects.

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