J&J Duped Arkansas Doctors Over Risperdal, Lawyer Tells Jury
By Jef Feeley, Eric Francis and Margaret Cronin Fisk
March 27, 2012
Johnson & Johnson [JNJ] officials repeatedly misled Arkansas doctors about the safety of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, and the drugmaker should be held responsible for those deceptions, a lawyer said. J&J’s Janssen unit made misleading claims about Risperdal’s health risks and effectiveness in a letter to more than 6,200 Arkansas doctors, violating the state’s deceptive-trade practices law, one of the state’s lawyers told a jury in Little Rock today. Arkansas is seeking more than $1.25 billion in penalties over the campaign. “By the time this case is over, we will prove to you that Janssen lied about Risperdal’s dangers just to make money,” Fletcher Trammell, an attorney for Arkansas, told jurors in opening statements in the state-court trial over J&J’s Risperdal marketing tactics.
It’s the fifth jury trial over states’ claims that J&J, the second-biggest maker of health products, hid Risperdal’s diabetes risks and tricked Medicaid regulators into paying millions of dollars more than they should have for the medicine. J&J ended the most recent trial in Texas with a $158 million settlement in January. The Texas settlement won court approval today.
J&J has said it provided proper warnings about diabetes risks on Risperdal’s label and that U.S. regulators approved those disclosures. Efforts to tie labeling claims to Medicaid fraud should fail because “compliance with federal drug labeling statutes and regulations is not a condition of payment or participating in” a state Medicaid program, J&J said in a July 2010 court filing.
Janssen didn’t engage in deceptive trade practices and didn’t harm anyone, James Simpson, a company lawyer, told the jury today.“The state will not present any evidence that a single person was injured while taking Risperdal,” Simpson said in his opening statement. “There will not be any evidence that the state of Arkansas lost a penny in paying for Risperdal for thousands of Arkansas citizens who needed the drug”…
Texas may have been a turning point in that J&J wasn’t willing to go to the jury and settled with no chance of appeal. In the earlier ones, they let it play out. People thought the Texas settlements was low. The truth about it was that it was sure. LA and SC are still tied up in appeals. With Texas sitting there, the States are probably going to feel more empowered to either ask for larger settlements or go to a Jury. Who ever knows? But that’s just my thought.