Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2 billion settlement

Pharma company Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations in the US that it promoted powerful psychiatric drugs for unapproved uses in children, seniors and disabled patients.

The allegations include paying kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to recommend and prescribe Risperdal and Invega, both anti-psychotic drugs, and Natrecor, which is used to treat heart failure…

The figure includes $1.72 billion in civil settlements with federal and state governments as well as $485 million in criminal fines and forfeited profits.

The agreement is the third-largest US settlement involving a drug-maker, and the latest in a string of legal actions against drug companies allegedly putting profits ahead of patients.

These companies lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, at a news conference…

“Every time pharmaceutical companies engage in this type of conduct, they corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, jeopardise the public health and take money out of taxpayers’ pockets,” the Attorney General said…

In a separate civil complaint, the government alleges Janssen Pharmaceuticals also promoted the drug as a way to control behavioural problems in children and mentally disabled.

The drugmaker allegedly downplayed Risperdal’s side effects while also paying kickbacks to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy to recommend the drug to prescribers.

Please, please – in addition to the cash settlement, throw the creeps in jail who made the decision to pursue criminal fraud to maximize profits. That is the polite definition of corporate theft, right?