Could the controversial Centocor film, InnerState, have had more dramatic impact by including courtroom scenes or addressing an issue near and dear to some of the patients who take Remicaid: Pricing? One group, CentocorWatch.org, appears to think so. The group represents the "largest property service workers' union in the country, " or some 85,000 janitors, cleaning people, concierges and other workers in six states. Today it has just issued a newsletter to Centocor/J&J shareholders, highlighting pricing practices and potential safety issues with Remicaid. The group plans to contact physicians next. The union launched a class action lawsuit against J&J four years ago over its pricing practices (particularly its use of the "Average Wholesale Price," which, they say, means that they end up paying 30% more for Remicaid than physicians). The group had already distributed leaflets outside the New York premieres of the film InnerState. Download the Centocor Watch newsletter here. Below, unedited text of a press release they sent out today.
Newsletter to J&J Shareholders Highlights Potential Financial TroublesPHILADELPHIA, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Local 32BJ today issued the first in a series of newsletters detailing concerns about a court case that charges Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and other drug companies with deceptive drug pricing. The newsletter, which has been mailed to thousands of shareholders in advance of their annual meeting in April, also discussed safety concerns with Remicade, a biologic produced by J&J subsidiary Centocor. The content of the newsletter can be viewed online at http://www.CentocorWatch.org. The plaintiffs in the court case about drug pricing charge J&J and others with using pricing and marketing practices that lead to excessive reimbursements by Medicare, private insurers, and patients. In documents filed in connection with the case, J&J admitted to publishing "average wholesale prices" that are above the real cost of medications. The newsletter informs readers that, "Ending these higher payments, coupled with greater awareness of the safety concerns about Remicade, could significantly impact Johnson & Johnson's bottom line." On February 21, representatives from Local 32BJ distributed information about the class action suit against J&J outside of the movie premier of the film INNERSTATE, a 'documentary' produced by Centocor that follows the lives of three patients affected by diseases treatable by Remicade. Remicade, which generated $3 billion in revenues for J&J last year, also faces scrutiny over safety concerns. Due to increased risk of infections and cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued two black box warnings for Remicade -- its strongest safety warning. Humira, a comparable drug produced by J&J's competitor Abbott, carries only one black box warning, while Enbrel, produced by Amgem, carries no black box warning. Future 32BJ publications may include a mailing to physicians about Remicade.