Here’s How J&J Is Getting a Taste of Its Own Medicine

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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) recently ended its criminal and civil investigations with a payment of $2.2 billion, according to a Monday U.S. Department of Justice release. The subject of the allegations were three prescription drugs — Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor — that had been endorsed for uses other than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective. The Justice Department said that the payment constitutes one of the largest health care fraud settlements in the United States.

Investigations were also being made into kickbacks that the company had been making to physicians and to “the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider,” according to the release. The settlement will include criminal fines and forfeiture for breaking the law, as well as for civil settlements based on the False Claims Act.

“The conduct at issue in this case jeopardized the health and safety of patients and damaged the public trust … This multibillion-dollar resolution demonstrates the Justice Department’s firm commitment to preventing and combating all forms of health care fraud. And it proves our determination to hold accountable any corporation that breaks the law and enriches its bottom line at the expense of the American people,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

According to Reuters, the drug Risperdal was recommended for uses such as controlling aggression in elderly dementia patients, as well as for treating behavioral problems in children — an entirely unapproved use of the drug, which is intended to treat schizophrenia.

The resolution will also place substantial monetary sanctions on the drug company, as well as harsher requirements from the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General, with the hope that it will force greater accountability and make watching for fraud easier, according to the press release.

“As patients and consumers, we have a right to rely upon the claims drug companies make about their products. And, as taxpayers, we have a right to ensure that federal health care dollars are spent appropriately. That is why this Administration has continued to pursue aggressively — with all of our available law enforcement tools — those companies that corrupt our health care system,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

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