The New York Times reported, “Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to the nation’s largest nursing home pharmacy to increase the number of elderly patients taking” several of its medications, “according to a complaint filed…by the office of the United States attorney in Boston.” The complaint alleges that Omnicare received “tens of millions of dollars…to buy and recommend Risperdal [risperidone],” as well as “prescription pain relievers Duragesic and Ultram, and the antibiotic Levaquin.”
Washington Post reported that Omnicare received payments that were “sometimes disguised as grants or educational funding” to use “its influence with doctors to get prescriptions switched, the government said.” As a result, the drugmaker “allegedly caused false or fraudulent claims to be filed with Medicaid.” The government claims that between 1999 and 2004, “Omnicare increased its annual drug purchases from [J&J], from about $100 million to more than $280 million.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that J&J paid Omnicare rebates for switching prescriptions. Under federal law, rebates are legal unless Medicaid does not receive the same benefit. The complaint alleges that J&J disguised its rebates to Omnicare as physician-prescriber-data payments in order to avoid reporting them.
The AP reported that US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office “is seeking triple damages, restitution and other penalties under the federal False Claims Act and other laws. The damages would be based on the amount of false claims charged to Medicaid, which paid for about two-thirds of the claims on the care submitted for J&J drugs.”
Forbes reported that the “Department of Justice said that [J&J] was aware of the influence Omnicare representatives have on the recommendations of nursing home doctors, claiming the drug manufacturer knew Omnicare suggestions were accepted about 80 percent of the time.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.