Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay as much as $2.2 billion to resolve an investigation into its marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported the settlement Thursday, said the settlement will include a $400 million criminal fine and that the final amount will depend on how many states accept the settlement.
Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Justice both declined to comment.
The Journal said Johnson & Johnson will disclose the general terms of the settlement in the next few weeks, and that the company will still be allowed to sell its products to Medicare and other government health care programs.
In 2010 the Justice Department joined a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that a Johnson & Johnson division paid tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to a company that provided prescription drugs to nursing home patients. The lawsuit said Johnson & Johnson made the payments to increase sales of Risperdal, a drug that is used to treat conditions including symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is linked to increased risk of death for elderly people with dementia.
The drug dispensing company, Omnicare Inc. of Kentucky, agreed to pay $90 million in 2009 to resolve an inquiry into its actions. The government said Johnson & Johnson made illegal payments to Omnicare between 1999 and 2004, and Omnicare's annual sales of Risperdal nearly tripled to $280 million over that period.
It would be one of the biggest drug-marketing settlements ever. GlaxoSmithKline PLC agreed to pay $3 billion this month to resolve an investigation into the marketing of two antidepressants, and Pfizer Inc. agreed in 2009 to pay $2.3 billion to end an investigation into its marketing of drugs including its painkiller Bextra, which was taken off the market in 2005.
The New Brunswick, N.J., company also faces lawsuits alleging it concealed the side effects of Risperdal. A judge in Arkansas fined the company about $1.2 billion in April.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose 16 cents to $69.53 on Thursday and slipped 10 cents to $69.43 in aftermarket trading.