By Jef Feeley and Eric Francis - Apr 11, 2012 12:07 AM ET
"Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) officials misled Arkansas doctors and patients about the risks of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, and the company’s marketing campaign violated consumer-protection laws, a jury ruled.
Jurors in state court in Little Rock, Arkansas, deliberated about three hours yesterday before finding J&J and its Janssen unit engaged in “false or deceptive acts” by sending a 2003 letter touting Risperdal as safer than competing drugs to more than 6,000 doctors across the state. The state is seeking more than $1.25 billion in penalties over the Risperdal marketing campaign, and a judge will decide later whether to fine J&J.
It’s the third jury verdict against J&J, the second-biggest maker of health products, in cases where states alleged the drugmaker hid Risperdal’s risks and tricked Medicaid regulators into paying more than they should have for the medicine. Louisiana and South Carolina juries also found the company’s Risperdal marketing violated consumer-protection laws."
"In a huge blow to Johnson & Johnson, an Arkansas judge has fined the healthcare giant and its Janssen subisdiary more than $1.1 billion one day after a jury found the companies downplayed and hid risks – notably, diabetes and weight gain – associated with its Risperdal antipsychotic drug. The jury decided J&J engaged in “false or deceptive acts” by sending a 2003 letter to thousands of doctors claiming Risperdal was safer than other antipsychotics.
In issuing his ruling, Judge Tim Fox found nearly 240,000 violations under the state Medicaid fraud law, and each violation came with a $5,000 fine, setting the total penalty at more than $1.1 billion. And he issued an additional $11 million fine for more than 4,500 violations under the state’s deceptive practices act."