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Medicine - Current Practices are Safe and Effective 3

April 29, 2010: The US Department of Justice announced that Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., both subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, agreed to pay more than $81 million to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the off-label promotion of its epilepsy drug Topamax.

Whistleblower Dr. Gary R Spivack, a psychiatrist from northern Virginia, alleged in his 2003 qui tam lawsuit that Ortho-McNeil paid doctors kickbacks to encourage them to prescribe Topamax for many "off-label" uses (not approved by the FDA), including weight loss, alcohol dependence, eating disorders and mood and anxiety disorders, with disregard to patients' health.

Dr Spivack became aware of Topamax for off-label uses when he attended a "Psychiatry Consultants' Conference" sponsored by the Ortho-McNeil. Attendees were paid $500 each or more as "consultants" to attend the meeting and listen to the pharma company presentations.

April 27, 2010: AstraZeneca agreed to pay $520 million to federal and state taxpayers to settle claims that it illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for uses that were not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

March 16, 2010: Pharmaceutical manufacturer Alpharma, Inc. agreed to pay $42.5 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations in connection with the marketing of the morphine-based drug, Kadian.

January 19, 2010: A civil False Claims Act complaint was filed against drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson by the US, alleging that J&J paid kickbacks to Omnicare, the nation's largest pharmacy, so it would purchase and recommend J&J drugs, including the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, for use in nursing homes.

September, 2009: Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion for its illegal marketing of the painkiller Bextra and other drugs. Pfizer admitted it encouraged doctors to prescribe Bextra to treat acute pain and other ailments the drug was not intended for, a practice banned by the FDA.

$14 million from Bayer, including $6.2 million on behalf of 45 states for their share of Medicaid payments for prescription costs allegedly inflated by the company's fraudulent practices.