Florida Attorney Gary M. Farmer, Jr. Settles Third Whistleblower Drug Case for $1.27 Billion
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Nov. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- South Florida consumer advocate and leading false claims attorney Gary M. Farmer, Jr., a partner with Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., has successfully litigated his third major false claims case against a global pharmaceutical company. Today, the United States Department of Justice announced a settlement against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. Johnson & Johnson and Janssen will pay a total of $2.2 billion to state and federal entities, $1.27 billion of which consists of civil fines and restitution regarding the drug Risperdal®. As the lead whistle-blower to bring the false claims to the government's attention, Farmer's client will share in a portion of the civil recovery.
Risperdal® was FDA approved for schizophrenia, specific bipolar disorders and behavior problems in teenagers and children with autism. The company was charged with:
- Promoting and marketing the drug to physicians for use "off-label" in children and the elderly for conditions such as ADHD, depression and dementia;
- Falsely claiming that Risperdal® was safer and more effective than similar, cheaper drugs; and
- Failing to adequately warning about the drug's possible side effects (diabetes and neurological problems).
Using falsified and misleading science and data, Janssen marketed Risperdal for these and other unapproved uses, specifically targeting pediatricians and nursing homes to prey upon vulnerable children and the elderly. Not only did Janssen know about but failed to disclose significant health risks associated with Risperdal, it affirmatively misrepresented Risperdal as being safe and without these known dangers and side-effects.
"This case clearly showed how Janssen Pharmaceutical was willing to put profits before people, and sales before safety," said attorney Gary Farmer. "In the endless pursuit of profit Johnson & Johnson and Janssen aggressively marketed their drug Risperdal® with no regard as to what happened to patients who used it, including the most vulnerable patients – children and the elderly."
Whistleblower and client Vicki Starr approached Farmer regarding the illegal marketing practices of Risperdal® and filed suit under the Civil False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. Section 3729 et seq.). Also known as the Informer's Act, this statute allows private individuals to sue companies that knowingly defraud the U.S. and/or state governments. It also protects whistleblowers from demotion, suspension, harassment and discrimination for cooperating with the investigation of their employer. Starr not only witnessed this from the pharmaceutical perspective, as a former employee, but was also the target of the pharmaceutical company's marketing in her later employment as a medical director of a nursing home.
Farmer was also spearheaded a drug case against pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly, which was resolved in a record setting $1.42 billion settlement in January 2009. In 2010, he successfully settled another false claims case against AstraZeneca for $520 million in fines and restitution. Farmer is nationally-recognized as a civil justice attorney and consumer advocate and is considered one of Florida's leading consultants on qui tam law and litigation.
Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards & Lehrman, P.L., a Fort Lauderdale Litigation firm, focuses on Consumer Class Actions, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Whistleblower Suits (qui tam). The firm is headquartered at 425 N. Andrews Avenue, Suite 2 and may be reached at (800) 400-1098. Additional information about Gary Farmer or the firm may be obtained at http://www.pathtojustice.com or http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gary-farmer/13/863/b26 .
Gary Farmer - Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L.
SOURCE Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L.