PHARMACY

J&J subsidiaries to pay government for alleged Topamax promotion

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON Two subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson will pay more than $81 million to the federal government over alleged illegal promotion of an epilepsy drug, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations announced Friday that Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Boston to one misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act for promoting the epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) for uses not approved by the FDA.

U.S. Magistrate-Judge Robert Collings sentenced the company to pay a criminal fine of $6.14 million. Another J&J subsidiary, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will pay $75.37 to resolve civil allegations under the False Claims Act that it illegally promoted Topamax and cause false claims to be submitted to government healthcare programs for psychiatric uses that the programs did not cover.

In the case of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, the company allegedly hired outside physicians to accompany sales representatives on sales calls to healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, through its “Doctor for a Day Program,” and promoted Topamax for psychiatric uses, even though it had never applied for approval of the drug for treating psychiatric conditions.

“We take the investigation and the settlement very seriously, and we’re fully committed to meeting the requirements of the agreement,” a Ortho-McNeil-Janssen spokesman told Drug Store News.

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NACDS’ stance on medication adherence emphasized in NYT article

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has praised a New York Times article that underscored medication therapy management and the consequences of nonadherence.

The article emphasized the use of technological solutions to enhance medication adherence, and said that “[medication nonadherence] undermines even the best cost-saving and clinical intentions of evidence-based care.” These ideas are consistent with NACDS’ focus on expanding e-prescribing, fostering electronic health records and increasing access to and use of pharmacist-provided medication therapy management services, the pharmacy group said.

In response to the article, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said, “The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has pledged to own the issue of medication adherence. We made this pledge because we know that pharmacists have the education and skills to work with patients to increase medication adherence rates, improve patient health and reduce overall healthcare costs.”

As previously reported by Drug Store News, an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month noted that more than $100 billion is spent each year on avoidable hospitalizations. The statistic is just the tip of the iceberg, the authors wrote, as the New England Healthcare Institute projected in July 2009 that $290 billion in total annual costs, or 13% of all healthcare expenditures, were caused by poor medication adherence.

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CVS Caremark highlights energy-saving measures

BY Drug Store News Team

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark detailed its efforts to better manage its energy consumption and reduce its carbon emissions in the company’s just-released “2009 Corporate Social Responsibility” report.

To reduce consumption at its stores, CVS Caremark focused on several initiatives in 2009, including installing more efficient lighting and new roofs designed to reflect heat, and integrating its first energy management systems.

In other moves, the company evaluated renewable energy sources, built new facilities to LEED standards and/or environmental considerations and reduced fuel consumption in its distribution networks.

Three lighting projects in the states of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania yielded the highest savings of 2,640 MWh, 3,480 MWh and 1,850 MWh, respectively. In addition, the retail pharmacy chain rolled out its computer-controlled energy management system in 50 stores in Florida, and will expand the system to 250 locations in 2010.

In the area of transportation, CVS Caremark has reduced the driving speed of its private fleet to 63 miles per hour, and consolidated its deliveries, which has eliminated 6,541 routes across the network. This resulted in nearly 1.2 million fewer miles driven and a savings of 218,730 gallons of fuel. It also prevented the emissions of 2,260 tonnes of CO2.

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