J&J accused of paying kickbacks to pharmacy
The U.S. Justice Department has alleged that Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks worth tens of millions of dollars to Omnicare from 1999 to 2004 to induce the long-term-care pharmacy to buy and recommend Johnson & Johnson’s drugs. The government, joining a whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston, alleges in a newly filed complaint that Johnson & Johnson came to view Omnicare’s ranks of more than 900 consultant pharmacists as an extension of its own sales force. The drugmaker, according to the complaint, paid rebates to Omnicare based on pharmacists’ success persuading nursing home physicians to switch patients to Johnson & Johnson drugs, primarily the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. “We are reviewing the complaint filed today and will address the government’s lawsuit in court,” Johnson & Johnson said in a written statement. “We believe airing the facts will confirm that our conduct, including rebating programs like those the government now challenges, was lawful and appropriate.” The rebates ultimately were replaced with an agreement to purchase prescribing data, much of which Omnicare never provided, the government alleged. In November 2009, Omnicare, Covington, Ky., agreed to pay the government $98 million to resolve allegations regarding deals with drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson.