Johnson & Johnson Bribed Doctors to Prescribe Arthritis Drug, Suit Contends
Johnson & Johnson boosted demand for arthritis drug Remicade by "bribing" physicians to prescribe it and encouraging them to "seek inflated reimbursement" from Medicare, a lawsuit filed on Friday in federal court contends, Bloomberg News/Boston Globe reports. The suit, filed in Newark, N.J., by United Food and Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health Benefits Fund, a labor union health fund, and public interest groups New Jersey Citizen Action and United Senior Action of Indiana Inc., alleges Johnson & Johnson lists the average wholesale price of Remicade at $666 per dose but charges doctors "substantially less." Medicare reimburses doctors based on the average wholesale price minus 5%. Doctors "pocket" the difference between what Johnson & Johnson charged for the medication and the Medicare reimbursement, generating "large, unlawful profits" for the company, the lawsuit contends. The plaintiffs also claim that J&J and its Centocor Inc. division pay "unspecified illegal bribes and kickbacks" to doctors to prescribe Remicade. The suit also says that Johnson & Johnson was aware that the AWP "bore no relation to the actual wholesale price of the drug" but still told health care providers to charge Medicare based on the inflated price. Ron Schmid, a spokesperson for Centocor, said he would not comment on pending litigation (Bloomberg News/Boston Globe, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.