U.S. asks court to force J&J executive to testify

Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:45pm EDT

(Reuters) - The federal government has asked a court to force Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) executive Alex Gorsky to testify in a lawsuit involving allegations of kickbacks and Medicaid fraud.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in Massachusetts federal court filing on Wednesday that Gorsky has "relevant knowledge" concerning the marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal to long-term care pharmacy Omnicare, Inc and about "allegedly illegal payments J&J made to induce Omnicare to purchase and recommend" the drug.

The government sued the company in January 2010.

In February, J&J announced that Gorsky will take over as the company's chief executive, effective April 26. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the period covered by the government's lawsuit, Gorsky served as vice president of sales and marketing and then president of J&J's Janssen pharmaceuticals unit.

J&J has refused to make Gorsky available to testify, saying he has "no reasonable connection to the subject matter" of the lawsuit, court filings show.

The government's suit is not the only legal action J&J has faced regarding Risperdal. Earlier this week, an Arkansas state judge ordered the company to pay a $1.1 billion penalty after a jury found it guilty of using fraudulent tactics to sell the drug. In January, the company said it would pay $158 million to settle a Texas lawsuit accusing it of improperly marketing Risperdal to patients in the state's Medicaid program.

J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is U.S. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 07-10288.

(Reporting By Erin Geiger Smith; editing by Richard Chang)

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