Health Law

1st Cir. Revives 'Civil Action' Lawyer's Whistle-Blower Suit Against J&J

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A federal appeals court has revived a whistle-blower suit against a major pharmaceutical company concerning the marketing of its anti-anemia drug Procrit.

The Medicare fraud suit brought against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ortho Biotech, by former pharmaceutical sales representatives potentially could result in a multibillion-dollar damages award, according to the Associated Press and the Boston Herald.

The plaintiffs alleged that the company illegally marketed the drug, paying kickbacks and promoting dangerous excessive dosing and off-label use. Although the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the kickbacks portion of the litigation yesterday and remanded the case back to U.S. District Court, it upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the misuse allegations, saying they had been dealt with in prior litigation, the AP reports.

Both sides proclaimed victory over the appellate court ruling:

A Johnson & Johnson spokesman, Bill Foster, said today that the company is pleased with the dismissal of the misuse allegations and plans to “vigorously defend” the ongoing litigation and seek to dismiss the one remaining claim.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jan Schlichtmann, a familiar name to readers and moviegoers who have followed the plot of an earlier case he tried in A Civil Action. He tells the Herald that he hopes the U.S. Department of Justice will now intervene to help pursue the case, which he describes as alleging “the largest-ever defrauding of Medicare.”

Additional coverage:

Dow Jones Newswires (sub. req.): “US Appeals Court Restores Whistleblower Case Against J&J Unit”

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