February 19, 2020

Many top drugmakers have faced allegations that they offered free services as kickbacks to doctors, and Johnson & Johnson is confronting those claims in a newly unsealed whistleblower lawsuit.

In the suit, a former employee says J&J's Janssen unit helped doctors set up high-volume "infusion suites" and offered other services to amp up Remicade and Simponi prescriptions for more than a decade. Johnson & Johnson disclosed the suit in its annual Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, published Tuesday.

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To help set up infusion suites, J&J “provided advice regarding the optimal design and organization of the infusion suites so as to fit in as many infusion chairs as possible and in turn optimize scheduling to maximize the infusion suites’ profitability,” the suit says. 

“If patients find an infusion suite to be aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, they will pay more and travel further to receive their infusions there,” according to the lawsuit.

The drugmaker first disclosed the federal investigation on the issue back in 2017. In January, J&J's Janssen unit was served with the unsealed suit, J&J said in its annual SEC filing Tuesday.

J&J’s immunology blockbuster Remicade was once the company’s top medicine by sales, but it has started to slide due to biosimilar competition. Last year, sales of the med fell 18% to $4.38 billion. Sales for Simponi Aria, which treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, grew 5% last year to $2.19 billion.  

The complete article can be accessed here.