Johnson & Johnson faces $2 billion fine over drug kickbacks

Johnson & Johnson, the consumer products giant that makes everything from Band Aids to metal hip implants, will fork over $2.2 billion to resolve claims that it paid doctors kickbacks and illegally promoted off-label uses of drugs.
As high as this figure sounds, Johnson & Johnson likely will pay even more money to settle roughly 11,000 lawsuits over its defective DePuy ASR metal hip implants, which were recalled in August 2010 after numerous reports of premature failures. The attorneys at Jones Ward PLC represent dozens of patients with failed DePuy hips across Kentucky and Indiana, and as far away as Florida, North Carolina, New York and Texas.
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The fine announced this week by the U.S. Department of Justice involves the antipsychotic medicine Risperdal. Federal government officials said Johnson & Johnson and two subsidiaries “lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry,” CNN reported.
The penalty also will mean one of the largest whistleblower payouts ever under the False Claims Act, with people in three states collecting $167.7 million.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal to treat schizophrenia, but the drug later was marketed to doctors and nursing homes as a treatment for patients suffering from dementia.
This week’s settlement agreement describes how the company knew patients on the drug were at increased risk for developing diabetes, but did not publicly acknowledge the risk. The company also promoted the drug in nursing homes in part by sending paid pharmacists to review patient records.
For Johnson & Johnson and its sprawling network of subsidiaries, this shameful activity casts another pall over a company that once enjoyed a sterling reputation for product safety and quality.
The tragedy of the DePuy ASR hip implant recall is still playing out in court, with half a dozen trials scheduled to take place between now and March 2014 in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective drug or medical device, contact Attorney Alex C. Davis for a free case evaluation, or send an email to alex@jonesward.com.