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Drug Giants Preyed on Seniors, Class Claims

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Johnson & Johnson conspired with pharmaceutical consultant and dispensary Omnicare to monopolize drug supplies to nursing homes and violate Medicaid laws, an antitrust class action claims in Federal Court. And they did it "in such a brazen manner that they named one of the programs 'one extra script per patient,'" the complaint states.

Using Omnicare's consulting contacts with nursing homes, the two companies pushed Johnson & Johnson-made drugs to residents, including the anti-dementia drug Risperdal, the class claims.

Medicaid's best-price law "was intended to ensure that Medicaid paid the lowest price available for drugs," but the companies sidestepped this law "and then covered up the violations by a program of rebates, kickbacks, and illusory service agreements in order to increase market share, revenue and profitability," according to the complaint.

The companies created a program designed to increase the use of drugs among nursing home patients "in such a brazen manner that they named one of the programs 'one extra script per patient,'" the complaint states.

As a result, approximately 1.4 million seniors were overcharged for prescriptions, had extra drugs administered unnecessarily and "were unlawfully switched to Johnson & Johnson drugs all as part and parcel of the conspiracy to increase revenue," according to the complaint.

Johnson & Johnson "paid handsomely" for Omnicare's pharmaceutical consultants to list its drugs as "preferred" and to dispense them to 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes, for which Johnson & Johnson "enjoyed over $100 million in revenues," according to the complaint.

"Omnicare is the nation's largest provider of pharmacy dispensing services and pharmacy consulting services to long-term care facilities in the country," the complaint states. It operates in 47 states.

The class demands restitution, disgorgement, imposition of a trust and punitive damages. They are represented by Thomas Girardi with Girardi Keese of Los Angeles.

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