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Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2B to settle allegations of improper drug marketing and kickbacks

Posted Nov 4, 2013 1:21 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle criminal and civil allegations related to its marketing of three medications, including the schizophrenia drug Risperdal.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the settlement today, report CNN, the New York Times and the Associated Press. His remarks are here.

The settlement resolves investigations into the company’s marketing of antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega and the heart drug Natrecor. Holder said the settlement is based on allegations that the company and its subsidiaries “marketed prescription drugs for uses that were never approved as safe and effective—and that they paid kickbacks to both physicians and pharmacies for prescribing and promoting these drugs."

The agreement is the third-largest U.S. settlement involving a drugmaker, according to the AP story.

J&J and one of its subsidiaries were accused of improperly marketing the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega to treat psychotic and behavioral symptoms in elderly patients suffering from dementia and to treat behavioral problems in children and the mentally disabled. Risperdal carries a risk of stroke in elderly patients, Holder said in his news conference.

The company is also accused of paying kickbacks to a long-term care pharmacy as part of its scheme to promote unapproved uses of the drugs. The company was Omnicare, according to a Wall Street Journal story (sub. req.) published before Holder’s announcement and an initial statement by the Justice Department.

A different subsidiary was accused of promoting the heart failure drug Natrecor for off-label uses that caused patients with less-severe heart failure to submit to infusions of the drug, though there was no sound scientific evidence of a health benefit.

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