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U.S. Files False Claims Complaint Against Johnson & Johnson; One Commentator Calls the Alleged Kickback Arrangement a “Death Panel”

January 21, 2010

According to DoJ complaints in intervention in two whistleblower lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J),the company paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest pharmacy that specializes in dispensing drugs to nursing homes patients. The Complaints allege that J&J: (1) paid rebates to Omnicare to influence Omnicare to increase prescriptions of J&J drugs to the elderly; (2) J&J paid millions to Omnicare for “data”, which was never submitted; (3) J&J made other substantial kickback payments to Omnicare, calling the payments “grants” and “educational funding,” even though the purpose was for Omnicare to recommend J&J drugs. In November of 2009, Omnicare voluntarily paid over $90 million to the government to settle allegations that it had recieved kickbacks from J&J; as reported in an earilier post by Fraudblawg the government alleged:

Omnicare solicited and recieved kickbacks from Johnson & Johnson in multiple forms, “including rebates that were conditioned on Omnicare engaging in an ‘Active Intervention Program’ for Risperdal and payments disguised as data purchase fees, educational grants, and fees to attend Omnicare meetings.” In turn, according to the allegations, Omnicare paid kickbacks “to nursing homes by providing consultant pharmacist services at rates below the company’s cost and below the fair market value of such services in order to induce the homes to refer their patients to Omnicare for pharmacy services.”

Today, Donald McGillis wrote a piece entitled “Kickbacker’s Motto: Do No Harm (to Profits)” in the Boston Globe calling the arrangement between J&J and Omnicare “death panels” alluding to findings by the FDA that “too many of the elderly who got [Risperdal] were dying.” According to McGillis, the government’s latest complaint against J&J “leaves little doubt that the drug company acted in a predatory way to increase sales and market share for its products, especially Risperdal, an antipsychotic often used to keep Alzheimer’s and dementia patients under control.”

To report violations of the False Claims Act, contact Frohsin & Barger.

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