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Johnson and Johnson May Have Used Kickbacks to Increase Sales of Levaquin

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Boston, MAThe US Justice Department claims that noted pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson and Johnson (J&J) may have paid tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks to influence pharmacies to carry many of its drugs like Risperdal and Levaquin.

An official complaint filed with a federal court in Boston accuses the company of illegally paying millions of dollars to Omnicare, one of the nation's largest pharmacies specializing in nursing home patients. In return, Omnicare nearly tripled its annual purchase of J&J products, paying the pharmaceutical company more than $280 million.

The move pushed sales of the antibiotic medication Levaquin to all time highs, even overtaking other leading medications like Cipro over the five year period between 1999 and 2004. These sales increased despite the growing concern of Levaquin's side effects, which include tendinitis and ruptured tendons.

"It's disheartening that this stuff continues to go on, but it's probably a sign about how competitive it is for business," Ira Loss, a senior health policy analysts with Washington Analysis, told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Most of these companies probably don't think they're going to get caught."

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