Product News and Recalls

Pa. state employee tried to warn of kickbacks

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that an investigator employed by the state of Pennsylvania twice tried to warn that state employees were getting kick-backs from pharmaceutical companies.

Both times, according to the Inquirer, Pennsylvania state government officials dismissed Allen Jones and his information. In Texas, however, the attorney general used Jones’ information to obtain a $158 million payment from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary, manufacturer of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The company offered to settle in January after six days of trial testimony.

Johnson & Johnson — which is engaged in a multi-year, multi-court national legal fight over Risperdal — has a reputation for marketing products to the public despite having information that those products are unsafe.

Two of the company’s medical devices, for example, have generated thousands of lawsuits from patients who were injured by them.

An all-metal hip implant, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, was recalled in 2010 after a number of studies showed that nearly half of the devices failed after only a few years, requiring recipients to get additional surgery.

The device also generated many complaints about toxic metal debris breaking off and getting into patients’ bodies.

And Johnson & Johnson recalled four different types of the transvaginal mesh implants – used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence — after hundreds of women who had the devices implanted reported the devices failing, causing chronic pain and injury.

According to the Inquirer, Jones had discovered similar malfeasance in both Pennsylvania and Texas. Drug companies allegedly paid kick-backs to persuade state officials to push higher-priced antipsychotic drugs to foster children, among other wards of the state, through taxpayer-funded Medicaid programs.

Risperdal, which hadn’t been approved for use in children at the time, had known side effects such as weight gain and breast growth in boys. Patients also died while using the drug, the Inquirer reports.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns. If you have significant injuries concerning DePuy hips or transvaginal mesh, you should also consult with a lawyer familiar with these cases discuss your legal rights.

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