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November 6, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Johnson & Johnson gets a taste of its own medicine

Bringing down the cost of health care, or keeping it from soaring ever higher, requires constant vigilance. Those best positioned to rip off the system are more than willing to do so.

Washington is set to receive a record Medicaid fraud settlement of $21.4 million. That is the state’s share of $1.72 billion Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will pay states and the federal government to make the fraud charges go away. Another $485 million in criminal fines will be paid.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington’s participation in the settlement was announced Tuesday by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He explained in a statement the case was about unlawful marketing practices for two antipsychotic drugs, Risperdal and Invega. They were allegedly being peddled for “off-label” uses not approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

Janssen recently settled similar allegations in another situation. Washington state received $4.6 million in that 2012 resolution.

In the current settlement, Washington’s $21.4 million share will be divided, with roughly half going into the state’s Medicaid services system - and also for fraud detection and prevention. The other half will go to the federal government for administration of Medicaid in Washington. The feds cover half of this state’s Medicaid costs.

The pursuit of waste, fraud and abuse in the medical system and healthcare is a big, endless task. These kinds of cases build an argument for a federal single-payer system that operates with lower overhead, and provides for rigorous oversight and accounting of expenditures.

Comments | Topics: Johnson & Johnson, settlement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson


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