Court Throws Out $1.2 Billion Risperdal Lawsuit Settlement

Court Throws Out $1.2 Billion Risperdal Lawsuit Settlement March 20, 2014 — Dallas News reports that lawyers for Johnson & Johnson have convinced the Arkansas Supreme Court to throw out a $1.2 billion judgment against the company for using illegal marketing tactics to promote the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal (risperidone).

J&J and its Janssen Pharmaceutical unit were accused of defrauding the state Medicare program by marketing Risperdal for “off-label” use and failing to warn about its risks. Risperdal has been linked to an increased risk of strokes and death in elderly patients with dementia. Other serious side effects include seizures, weight gain, type-2 diabetes, and gynecomastia (male breast growth) in children.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel sued the pharmaceutical giants in 2007. In 2012, a jury found the companies liable for $1.2 billion — or $5,000 for each of the 240,000 Risperdal prescriptions the Arkansas Medicaid program paid. The lawsuit originally sought damages for nearly 600,000 prescriptions written over a 13-year period.

However, an Arkansas court ruled that the law only applies to healthcare facilities, not drug companies.

Last November, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion to federal and state governments to settle civil and criminal allegations that they promoted Risperdal for unapproved uses. They are also appealing a ruling in South Carolina ordering the company to pay $327 million in penalties. A similar ruling in Louisiana overturned a $258 million award in Louisiana.

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