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Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2 billion in fraud settlement

Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., have agreed to settle a health-care fraud case by paying $2.2 billion. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged that J&J had aggressively promoted the off-use of certain drugs that put patients' lives at risk and cost insurance programs millions of dollars in claims.

Under the settlement, Janssen will plead guilty to promoting Risperdal, Invega and Natrector for purposes other than those originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. From 1999 to 2005, Janssen promoted Risperdal to control aggression and anxiety in dementia patients and to treat behavioral disturbances in kids. The FDA had only approved Risperdal to treat schizophrenia.

J&J was accused of misleading pharmacies for financial gain. The company was also accused of funding Omnicare Inc., the largest pharmacy in the country, through "educational funding" that led to kickbacks.

This case has been described as the largest settlement concerning health-care fraud, in part because of the time span in which the drugs were sold as well as the involvement of insurance companies. Cases like this one apply to drug manufacturers as well as health-care providers in Louisiana.

Federal health-care fraud usually involves a healthcare practitioner fraudulently billing insurance companies for services that were not provided to patients in order to get monetary gain. Medicare fraud and Medicaid fraud are among the most common forms of federal health-care fraud in the country.

The federal government vigorously investigates reports and complaints of fraudulent acts because of the cost to taxpayers.

A person who has been accused of healthcare or fraud charges typically faces hefty fines and possible prison time and may be prevented from practicing his or her profession if convicted. It is important that someone who is arrested on such charges seek the advice of a qualified legal professional.

Source: GDP Insider, "Biggest Settlement By Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) In Healthcare Fraud," Sara Frank, Nov. 5, 2013

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