Front page of the Dallas Morning News today features an article about the lawsuit the State of Texas just filed against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. The filing claims they used kickbacks, distributed false marketing materials and deployed phony advocacy groups to get its expensive schizophrenia drug prescribed to low-income Texans.
The lawsuit claims that in the mid-1990's Janssen provided "substantial funding" to Texas officials to influence the adoption and implementation of drug protocols by funneling it through third-party vendors, charitable organizations, advocacy groups and governmental entities. Janssen is said to have used Texas' mental health officials as "pitchmen" to get other states to adopt the drug by providing them with trips, perks, travel expenses, honoraria and other payments.
Texas has spent millions of state Medicaid dollars on the drug. Risperdal appeared on the Texas list of approved drugs for children for eight years before it was approved by the FDA for use in juveniles. Recent studies show that Risperdal fails to perform better than older, generic drugs.
"It's standard practice in the industry to influence a few key decision-makers," according to Allen Jones, a Pennsylvania whistle-blower who brought the case to the attention of Texas authorities. "But this is the most transparent example I have seen."
A Janseen spokesman said none of the allegations has any merit.