Local & Regional News
10:53 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Arkansas Court Tosses Out $1.2 Billion Judgment Against Johnson & Johnson

Arkansas Supreme Court
File photo of the Arkansas Supreme Court building.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has thrown out a $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit challenging its marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The Thursday ruling comes in an appeal of lawsuit filed by Arkansas against the drugmaker and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The state says the companies didn't properly communicate the drug's risks and marketed it for off-label use, calling the practices fraudulent.

Johnson & Johnson said there was no fraud and Arkansas' Medicaid program wasn't harmed.

The state Supreme Court ruled that the law the state sued under was improperly applied because it governs health care facilities, which the drug-maker isn't.

Risperdal and similar antipsychotic drugs have been linked to increased risk of strokes and death in elderly patients, along with seizures, weight gain and diabetes.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel refused an interview request about the decision, but did send a written statement, saying he was disappointed by Thursday’s decision.

We pursued this case based on the belief we continue to hold, which is that the General Assembly intended to give the Attorney General’s Office the authority to pursue penalties against those that would enter our state and blatantly deceive the public. I am disappointed that the Court viewed the law differently. Nevertheless, I will keep working to protect consumers against fraud and the kinds of irresponsible and greedy actions shown by Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals in their marketing of the drug Risperdal.

The state sued the companies in 2007, arguing that they downplayed and concealed risks of the drugs and lied to doctors for years about its side effects.

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