Oregon will receive more than $4.2 million under a multi-state settlement over alleged illegal marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal.
The consumer protection settlement announced this morning is based on a long-running investigation into whether Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, paid kickbacks to providers to use the drug for unapproved purposes such as managing elderly in nursing homes – while downplaying safety concerns. The drug’s side effects include increased risk for obesity and diabetes, as well as for strokes in older people.
“This is our most important case settlement yet involving “Big Pharma,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “Some of Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens will be the beneficiaries.”
Under the settlement, Janssen agrees to pay $181 million split between 36 states and to curb payments to health care professionals, fully disclose safety risks and not make misleading claims over drugs like Risperdal, known as atypical antipsychotics.
The settlement is the latest in a string of cases involving Risperdal, known as risperidone in its generic form, as well as a related drug, Invega. The federal government is close to a large settlement with Johnson & Johnson over Risperdal marketing of about $2 billion, according to news accounts. In April, a judge in Arkansas fined the company $1.1 billion for violations of the state’s Medicaid fraud law.
In 2010 the Oregon Department of Justice reached a related settlement with Omnicare, a nursing home pharmacy, in which the firm agreed to pay $300,000 and make reforms in response to allegations that it accepted kickbacks from Johnson & Johnson to promote Risperdal.
Oregon’s share of the most recent settlement includes an extra $600,000 in recognition of its direct participation in the case. David Hart assistant attorney-in-charge of the Oregon DOJ financial fraud/consumer protection section, helped negotiate the settlement.