Nursing Home Residents Allegedly Drugged for Pharmacy Gain

In yesterday’s blog, our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys discussed the complaint filed last week by the U.S. Justice Department against Johnson & Johnson, for allegedly paying millions of dollars in kickback payments Omnicare, the largest pharmacy in the country, to increase sales of antipsychotic prescription drugs given to nursing home patients. According to the complaint, Omnicare was allegedly persuading physicians to prescribe drugs like the antipsychotic Risperdal for patients with dementia, even though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for dementia treatment.

In 1987, Congress passed landmark laws protecting patients from unnecessary drugs, and, according to these regulations, nursing home residents have the right to be protected from chemical restraints and medication for the sake of convenience or discipline to nursing home staff or doctors. It is illegal for facilities to give strong psychotropic drugs to patients without a doctor’s orders, patient’s consent and treatment justification, as patients may experience dangerous side effects like tremors, severe lethargy, nursing home falls, and wrongful death.

The Department of Health and Human Services states that nursing homes are required to have an outside pharmacist consult and review a patient’s medication schedule at least once a month. Once the outside pharmacist checks with the patient, they are obligated to report any oddities in the prescription drug schedule with the physician, and are able to make recommendations on how they would alter the medicine plan. But according to the complaint by the government, Johnson & Johnson used the consultant pharmacists as a tool to increase market share—dissolving the trust and integrity that should be a cornerstone for the health and safety of nursing home residents.

The New York Times reported this is not the first time that a drug company has been charged for using antipsychotic prescriptions to drug elderly residents. Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last January in a nearly $1.5 billion settlement of criminal and civil charges that the pharmaceutical company had marketed Zyprexa, the antipsychotic drug for the treatment of dementia with elderly people. Omnicare and Johnson & Johnson were reportedly trying to compete against AstraZenica’s antipsychotics, by increasing market share for Risperdal.

This case adds to a series of claims initiated by the government—Omnicare reached a $98 million settlement in November that resolved Onmicare’s civil liability under the False Claims Act for taking Johnson & Johnson kickbacks. A Florida drugmaker also agreed to pay $14 million, and two nursing home chains face claims by the government for reportedly taking financial kickbacks from Omnicare in return for pharmacy contracts.

Our Maryland Nursing Home and Negligence Attorneys represent victims and their families who wish to recover compensation from a facility that has caused nursing home abuseor injury during their stay. Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.

U.S. Says Johnson & Johnson Paid Kickbacks to Omnicare, The New York Times, January 15, 2010
Justice Suit Accuses Johnson & Johnson of Paying Kickbacks, The Washington Post, January 16, 2010
United States Files Suit Against Drug Manufacturer Johnson & Johnson for Paying Kickbacks to Nation’s Largest Nursing Home Pharmacy, Press Release from The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, January 15, 2010
Johnson & Johnson Accused of Paying Kickbacks to Pharmacy Chain Omnicare, The Star-Ledger, January 15, 2010
Has Johnson & Johnson’s Reputation Been Damaged?, The Street, January 21, 2010
Johnson & Johnson Fights Charges of Recalls and Kickbacks, Daily Finance, January 19, 2010

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS

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