The scariest wrinkle in the Omnicare kickback case is just how vulnerable old people in nursing homes are to schemes in which
drug companies allegedly induce pharmacies to prescribe drugs they otherwise wouldn’t.
One patient cited by the
government’s complaint received 67 — sixty-seven! – different drugs under Omnicare’s
“care” (see list below). Those drugs included Cipro, Neurontin, Heparin, Pepcid, Oxycodone and Seroquel
or their generics, according to the complaint.
Omnicare, the country’s largest nursing home pharmacy chain,
paid $98 million to settle the case. The WSJ Health blog noticed that the government accused J&J of paying kickbacks —
such as questionable rebates — to Omnicare in order to persuade Omnicare to implement an “Active Intervention
Program” for Risperdal.
In Johnson & Johnson’s 10-Q, the company disclosed:
In September 2005,
Johnson & Johnson received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, seeking documents
related to sales and marketing of eight drugs to Omnicare … Several employees of the Company’s pharmaceutical
subsidiaries have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in connection with this investigation.
In April 2009,
Johnson & Johnson was served with the complaints in two civil qui tam cases relating to marketing of prescription drugs
to Omnicare, Inc.
Among the results of Omnicare’s scheme was that a single patient in a nursing home in Massachusetts
received 67 drugs from Omnicare’s pharmacies. There’s no suggestion that these drugs were prescribed needlessly
(some patients are indeed very sick), however this patient seems to have been “cycled” through various
drug categories — hence Seroquel and Neurontin, and Pepcid and Zantac. (Ironically, Risperdal seems to be the only
drug the patient didn’t get.) Here’s the list: