The United States has filed a civil False Claims Act complaint against drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of New Brunswick, N.J., and two of its subsidiaries, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc., the Justice Department announced in a press release January 15, 2010. The complaint alleges that these companies paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest pharmacy that specializes in dispensing drugs to nursing home patients.
The United States alleges that J&J paid kickbacks to Omnicare to induce the nursing home pharmacy company to purchase and recommend J&J drugs, including the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, for use in nursing homes. According to the complaint, J&J understood that Omnicare’s pharmacists reviewed nursing home patients’ charts at least monthly and made recommendations to physicians on what drugs should be prescribed for those patients. The government further alleges that J&J knew that physicians accepted the Omnicare pharmacists’ recommendations more than 80 percent of the time, and that J&J viewed such pharmacists as an “extension of [J&J’s] sales force.”
The United States alleges that, in order to induce Omnicare and its pharmacists to recommend J&J drugs, the company paid kickbacks to Omnicare in numerous ways. First, the complaint alleges that J&J entered into agreements with Omnicare by which Omnicare was entitled to increasing levels of rebates from Johnson & Johnson so long as Omnicare implemented specific programs to increase the prescriptions of J&J drugs. Second, the complaint alleges that J&J paid Omnicare millions of dollars for “data,” much of which Omnicare never provided. According to the complaint, the true purpose of these payments was to induce Omnicare to recommend J&J drugs. Third, the complaint alleges that J&J made various other substantial kickback payments to Omnicare, calling the payments “grants” and “educational funding,” even though their true purpose was to induce Omnicare to recommend J&J drugs, according to the release.
For the full release, go to: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/January/10-civ-042.html.
For more information about qui tam law and health care fraud, contact Nolan and Auerbach, PA.