It's difficult to even think, sometimes, about the amounts of money that pharmaceutical companies have at their disposal. Now there's a case against Johnson & Johnson over alleged kickbacks paid to nursing homes so that patients would use their J & J prescription drugs.
An Assistant District Attorney is quoted in an Associated Press article as saying the government lawsuit was brought on because of the "extraordinary amount of money" being paid to the nursing care pharmacy Omnicare Inc. How much money? The exact amount isn't reported, but described as "tens of millions."
Johnson & Johnson is not denying that the payments took place, instead they're arguing against the definition. They're just legally allowable discounts, according to the pharmaceutical company's lawyers. Regardless of what you call the money that changed hands, the results seem to have been worth it for Johnson & Johnson. Over a 5 year period, Omnicare bought more than 280 million dollars of Johnson & Johnson drugs, up from 100 million. It sounds like the investment of mere tens of millions of dollars really paid off.
But what really matters is that there is a vulnerable elderly population that is potentially at risk when there is any kind of financial incentive to use one drug over another. Omnicare alone takes care of the pharmaceutical concerns of more than "1.4 million residents of nursing homes, assisted living and other health care facilities in 47 states and Canada."
The main issue is whether health care providers were being successfully pushed to promote Johnson and Johnson's drugs in instances where a competitor's drug would make more sense for a patient's medical issue. But aside from the health of patient's bodies, there's the health of their pocketbooks; older patients can save a considerable amount of money by taking generic drugs. And assisted living facilities are already very easy places to spend all of your money, sometimes much too quickly.
We have an uneasy relationship with pharmaceutical companies. It's easy to vilify them as just after our money, and as corporations, they are definitely in it to profit. But on the other hand, they have the huge financial, information and human resources necessary to create new, occasionally ground-breaking drugs that in so many instances we rely on to stay healthy, happy, and pain free. What's your opinion?
Elder Care Tip
: If you have an elderly family member or friend in an assisted living situation, it may pay to independently keep track of what drugs they're taking, and how much. Hopefully their caretakers will keep a close eye on things, but mistakes can happen, and taking time out our of our very busy lives to lend a helping hand and a clear head, can be a great benefit.
Johnson & Johnson Accused of Drug Kickbacks
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