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Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Misled Consumers on Risperdal
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A state court jury in Little Rock, Arkansas, deliberated this week for about three hours and reached the conclusion that Johnson and Johnson and its Janssen unit was guilty of “false or deceptive” acts. The case arose from a letter sent by Johnson and Johnson in 2003 to more than 6000 doctors across the state claiming Risperdal to be safer than competing drugs. The state is seeking greater than $1.25 billion in penalties.

Johnson and Johnson challenged the authority of Arkansas in a publicly issued statement by Teresa Miller, a spokeswoman for the company. Miller wrote in an e-mailed statement, “It is our position that an individual state should not penalize a pharmaceutical company for using an FDA-approved package insert or decide for itself whether a company complies with FDA rules.”

This is a new one: a multinational company publicly questioning the judicial authority of a state and its judicial policies.

  
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The company continues its stand even though in earlier cases on Risperdal, juries in Louisiana and South Carolina also found that the product’s marketing violated consumer-protection laws. The marketing tricked Medicaid regulators into paying more than they should have, as found by at least three juries in different states.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel replied that the suit was necessitated because the residents of Arkansas deserve to be protected from “fraud and deceptive practices.” The Attorney General mentioned that the jurors found “Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals lied to patients and doctors because they cared more about profits than people.”

In three different states, jurors found the company defrauded the Medicaid program by not outlining the antipsychotic medicine’s risks in a proper fashion. Arkansas officials also alleged that the marketing campaign deceived consumers and doctors by claiming that the drug was better and safer than alternatives in the market.

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Besides the Arkansas ruling, the U.S. Justice Department has also raised demands that Johnson & Johnson pay almost $1.8 billion for resolving civil claims by federal regulators.

Already 11 states have sued Johnson & Johnson and the Janssen unit over Risperdal marketing.



The case is State of Arkansas v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., CV07-15345, Pulaski County Circuit Court (Little Rock) Arkansas.



 

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