Johnson & Johnson’s $2.2 billion settlement to resolve False Claims Act allegations that it paid doctors kickbacks and promoted some drugs for off-label uses may be one of the last high-dollar settlements in the federal government’s long-running campaign to stop drug companies from marketing drugs for uses in which they are not approved.
Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay the 10-figure settlement based on illegal marketing of three of its drugs including the antipsychotic Risperdal, the schizophrenia drug Invega, and the cardiac drug Natrecor. The practice, attorneys said, put fragile patients – such as the elderly and children – at serious risk.
The settlement is among the largest in United States history. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline was ordered to pay nearly $3 billion over similar charges of off-label marketing and paying kickbacks to doctors.
Many manufacturers have agreed to much smaller settlements, especially since they know whistleblowers could be hiding in their ranks and eager feds are always able to hear fraud complaints.
Other False Claims Act settlements are on the horizon and may generate big-dollar settlements, but the well is running dry. The 10-year statute of limitations imposed by the False Claims Act will run out soon. Meantime, most drug makers have seen the writing on the wall when it comes to off-label marketing, and have put those practices to bed.