Remicade: deceptive pricing, federal lawsuits--and a movie

In 2006, Remicade made over $3 billion in worldwide sales. Now it is facing federal action for deceptive pricing:

In a class action lawsuit filed by the federal government, and many state, local government, and employee health plans, Centocor and its parent company Johnson & Johnson have been accused of engaging in deceptive drug pricing. Johnson & Johnson has admitted that Centocor's main product, Remicade, has been listed for reimbursement at prices 30% higher than the drug's cost to the physicians who administer it. This gives physicians the potential to profit from administering the drug and artificially raises the costs of the drugs to patients and insurance providers. (source: www.pharmalive.com)

In other Remicade news, the manufacturer is heralded with breaking new marketing ground by producing a "documentary" called InnerState. While working as a movie usher (during high school) I watched small children fly out of the theater kicking, punching, and rolling after viewing one of the Karate Kid sequels. Centocor is hoping that patients who see InnerState will rush to their doctors and ask them to pull out the prescription pads. However, some doctors are uneasy:

"This is a whole new dimension in direct-to-consumer advertising," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a Harvard University researcher and author of "Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks and Costs of Prescription Drugs."

"What makes me edgy about it is if it is going to be a commercial, you should know it's a commercial. I'm very troubled by the blurring of the lines between advertising and patient education," Avorn said. [boldface added]
(source: Los Angeles Times, "Doctors raise doubts about J&J drug film")

All that for a drug that induces remission in the "range of 40%"--a range that declines after 1 year . . .

(For those of you not able to see the new Centocor movie, here's another Remicade related video on www.youtube.com.)