Life Sciences

Court documents allege physician asked J&J to finance research center

Pharma Compliance Alert, November 26, 2008

Documents produced as part of a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) claim the company funded a research center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in part to further the company’s commercial goals, according to a New York Times article.

Joseph Biederman, MD, a world-renowned child psychiatrist at Harvard University, is under federal investigation for failing to report $1.6 million he was paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers between 2000 and 2007. According to the Times, Biederman’s research helped lead to a huge increase in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disease between 1994 and 2003 and a corresponding increase in the use of antipsychotic medication, such as J&J’s Risperdal, in children.

E-mails suggest J&J helped plan and fund the child psychiatry research center, the Johnson & Johnson Center for the Study of Pediatric Psychopathology, which Biederman ran. Biederman allegedly promised his work would promote the use of antipsychotics in children.

The e-mails also suggest company officials helped to write research done by Biederman and his colleagues, and raise questions about whether J&J promoted Risperdal for unapproved uses through the institute.

J&J, Eli Lilly, and AstraZeneca face a multi-state lawsuit claiming the companies marketed their antipsychotic treatments for off-label uses.

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