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Litigation

Arkansas Judge Orders J&J Unit To Pay $1.1 Billion Penalty For Risperdal Marketing

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - (Mealey's) An Arkansas state court judge on April 11 assessed a $1.1 billion penalty against the Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson for thousands of violations of state trade practice and Medicaid fraud laws, sources told Mealey Publications (State of Arkansas v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., No. CV07-14345, Ark. Cir., Pulaski Co.).

On April 10, a jury in the Pulaski County Circuit Court found that Ortho-McNeil-Janssen violated state laws through false and deceptive promotion of the atypical antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The penalty was determined by Judge Tim Fox.

Company Disappointed

A spokesperson for Ortho-McNeil-Janssen told Mealey Publications, "We are disappointed with the judge's decision on penalties.  We will consider our options for appeal after the judge has ruled on our post-trial motions."

The spokesperson said that the company "presented abundant evidence showing the Company acted responsibly and fully complied with all laws and regulations regarding its antipsychotic prescription medication Risperdal.  In contrast, the state did not show any Arkansas patient was ever harmed by using Risperdal, that any Arkansas physician or Arkansas Medicaid was ever misled by the drug's label or package insert, or that the State ever paid for a Risperdal  prescription that was not properly written and eligible for reimbursement."

The spokesperson said that "during the entire period at question in the trial, Arkansas Medicaid spent a total of $8.1 million on prescriptions for Risperdal."

Dear Doctor Letters

In 2007, Arkansas sued Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, alleging that the company violated state laws when it sent a 2003 letter to Arkansas doctors about Risperdal's safety compared to competing atypical antipsychotic drugs.

The trial began March 27.  The jury began deliberating April 10 and returned its verdict the same day.

State court juries in Louisiana and South Carolina have found that Ortho-McNeil-Janssen violated state law through Risperdal letter to doctors.  Those verdicts are on appeal.

In January, a trial in Texas state court ended with a $158 million settlement.

Other State Allegations

States have alleged that marketing of Risperdal as superior to competing drugs, for off-label uses and without disclosing the risks of extreme weight gain or diabetes resulted in state Medicaid programs paying for prescriptions they otherwise might have avoided and for paying to treat the side effects.

Arkansas was represented in the Arkansas trial by Fletcher Trammel of Bailey Perrin Bailey in Houston.

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