Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

December 17, 2013

Shocking

I am sitting in the dentist office waiting to be called for my procedure. The waiting room has several magazines and newspapers lying on the tables. One article catches my attention in a St. Louis paper. The article byline only states Associated Press.

In large headlines, “Drug maker fined $2.2 billion over marketing, kickbacks.” I found it hard to believe that Johnson and Johnson had agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion (yes the article stated billion with a lot of zero’s) to resolve criminal and civil allegations that the company promoted powerful psychiatric drugs for unapproved uses in children, seniors and disabled patients. This is reported to be the third-largest settlement with a drug maker in U.S. history.

It was alleged that they used illegal marketing and kickbacks to increase sales of certain drugs by persuading physicians and pharmacists to prescribe drugs by pushing medicines for unapproved, or “off-label” uses.

They reportedly agreed in a plea agreement by a J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical to admit to promoting Riseperdal as a way to control erratic behavior in seniors with dementia; a drug explicitly barred today because it can increase the risk of stroke and death in elderly patients. They agreed to plead guilty to violating drug marketing laws according to the article.

I had just finished reading an article sent to me about folks bending the rules and bordering on being illegal because they could not afford medicine that they desperately need.

The article started with a woman being denied a shipment of a necessary drug because it came from Canada. She had been getting her medicine from there for several years because her supply cost $100 from Canada and $1,000 in the United States. She received a letter that her shipment had been impounded because it was illegal to ship into the United States.

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