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January 17, 2010

Johnson & Johnson Issues Giant Recall In North Carolina

Thumbnail image for Johnson & Johnson Bldg.jpgOn Friday, January 15, 2010, Johnson & Johnson, the multi-national conglomerate, issued a huge recall of several of its most popular over the counter medications, including Tylenol, Motrin and St. Joseph's Aspirin. The popular products have a strange moldy smell and have caused more than 75 people to become ill after taking the medicines. The symptoms range from nausea and vomiting to severe abdominal pain. Several people have sought medical attention after getting sick.

Johnson & Johnson apparently knew of the suspect drugs several months ago, but failed to promptly and thoroughly investigate the complaints. The moldy smell allegedly originates with a chemical used in treating the wooden pallets on which the products are shipped. Johnson & Johnson has not publicly disclosed the name of the chemical.

The Food and Drug Administration is also lobbing accusations that Johnson & Johnson should have notified them as soon as they suspected a problem. In a prior post about another drug making giant, Eli Lily, I explained how the FDA obtained billions as a result of the drug maker's violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Similar allegations by the FDA are considered likely in this case as a result of Johnson & Johnson's reckless disregard for the public's safety.

In a separate announcement, the Justice Department is alleging that the pharmaceutical giant has paid millions and millions of dollars in kickbacks to Omnicare Inc. to boost drug sales to patients in nursing homes. Federal prosecutors contend that Omnicare purchases of Johnson & Johnson medicines tripled during this under-handed scheme to more than $280 million. Such conduct will likely cost Johnson & Johnson tens of millions, as it should. Conduct by corporations that intentionally harms the public should continue to be subject these corporate wrongdoers to massive fines, criminal prosecution, and punitive damages.

November 13, 2009

Eli Lily Pays $24 Million in Zyprexa Case

Capsules - Pills.jpgDrug giant Eli Lily has been caught red-handed in an off-label marketing scheme of the drug Zyprexa. The FDA has approved the drug for treatment of schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder. Many states have sued the drug giant for marketing the drug to treat other mental health conditions such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer's and agitation. Marketing a drug to treat conditions it has not been approved for is illegal.

The Associated Press reports that Utah has entered into an agreement with Eli Lily to settle that state's claim. Eli Lily has agreed to pay Utah $24 Million. The Utah Attorney General stated that his office found that 1,769 patients over the age of 65 had been prescribed the drug but had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Last year, Eli Lily settled similar claims with more than 30 other states, including North Carolina, in a $62 Million settlement, but Utah and 13 other states refused to settle and filed separate lawsuits. In the last 60 days, South Carolina agreed to settle for $45 Million and Connecticut agreed to accept $25 Million for Zyprexa's illegal marketing.

Eli Lily settled with the US Department of Justice in January for $1.4 Billion. As part of that settlement, Eli Lily also agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In that case, the DOJ alleged that Lily had persuaded physicians to prescribe Zyprexa to children and elderly patients when they knew that the drug was not designed for these patient populations and that it can be harmful to these age groups.