By David Gutierrez
September 20, 2010
(NaturalNews) A subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has pleaded guilty in federal court to misdemeanor charges of marketing a drug for unapproved uses.
The guilty plea comes as part of a larger, $81-million settlement signed by J&J to settle government allegations that it illegally marketed its anti-seizure drug Topamax for the treatment of conditions including bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol addiction.
U.S. law allows doctors to prescribe drugs for any use they see fit, but prohibits drug makers from actively promoting drugs for any use not specifically approved by the FDA.
According to prosecutors, J&J sought to get around this restriction through a program it called “Doctor-for-a-Day,” in which doctors would accompany sales representatives on marketing visits. These doctors would then promote Topamax for unapproved uses, allowing company employees to keep their hands clean. According to internal documents, sales representatives told doctors that the Doctor-for-a-Day could “talk to you about things I can’t talk to you about.”
Participating doctors were paid up to $3,000 per day plus expenses, with one neurologist making half a million dollars for 200 appearances.
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