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AG announces largest-ever health care fraud settlement

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Indiana will receive its largest-ever health care fraud settlement as part of a $2.2 billion agreement with Johnson & Johnson for illegal off-label marketing and kickbacks to promote Risperdal, Invega and other drugs, according to a statement from Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

The refunds are the result of whistleblower lawsuits initiated in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and joined by Indiana, other states and the federal government. The settlement resolves claims that the company and related companies defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. Johnson & Johnson will plead guilty to a single count of drug misbranding.
 
In total, the Indiana Medicaid program will receive $16.9 million for its state share of the settlements – the largest amount Indiana has received in such a settlement in an illegal drug-marketing case, according to the AG’s office. Counting federal recovery specific to Indiana, the two settlements total $44.5 million in combined federal and state money for the Indiana Medicaid program, the largest such amount the program has received.

Risperdal is approved to treat symptoms in patients with mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Invega replaced Risperdal when its patent expired. The lawsuits alleged J&J companies engaged in a pattern of illegal payment to doctors and long-term care pharmacies to induce them to promote Risperdal and other J&J drugs instead of less-expensive generic drugs for unapproved uses, such as for pediatric patients or elderly patients suffering from dementia.

The $16.9 million settlement boosts the attorney general’s state-level recovery of Medicaid funds through settlements of lawsuits against drug companies to nearly $54 million since January 2009, according to the statement.

More information about how whistleblowers can file qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act is available here.
 

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