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Risperdal Lawsuit Results in $258M Verdict for Misleading Marketing

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A Louisiana jury has issued a $257.7 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson for making misleading claims about its antipsychotic drug Risperdal in letters sent to hundreds of thousands of doctors. 

The pharmaceutical giant had been charged with defrauding Louisiana’s Medicaid system through its advertising claims in a November 2003 promotional letter that was sent to about 700,000 doctors nationwide. The letter went to 7,604 Louisiana doctors as well.

The letter claimed that Risperdal was safer than other antipsychotic drugs and sparked a warning letter from the FDA for making unsubstantiated claims and minimizing the risk of Risperdal side effects. Johnson & Johnson sales representatives also made more than 27,500 sales calls to Louisiana in 2003 and 2004, which the jury found to be in error as well.

Risperdal (risperidone) is manufactured by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Risperdal is approved by FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, but it is commonly used among elderly with dementia and sometimes as a form of chemical restraint in nursing homes.

This is not the first time that Johnson & Johnson has gotten into hot water over how it has marketed Risperdal. The Department of Justice is currently engaged in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company for allegedly taking part in a nursing home drug kickback scheme intended to get facilities to push Risperdal onto elderly patients.

The DOJ filed a civil False Claims Act compliant against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on January 15, saying that the company paid millions to Omnicare, Inc. as kickbacks for prescribing its drugs to nursing home patients. Last year, Omnicare settled charges brought against it by the government for allegedly paying kickbacks to nursing homes to prescribe the drug. At that time, the Justice department investigators indicated that the illegal nursing home drug kickbacks were hidden as data fees, education fees and as payments to attend Omnicare meetings.

Last year, Risperdal marketing tactics earned the company a $4 million judgment from a judge in West Virginia. The company is appealing that decision.

Louisiana jurors cited Johnson & Johnson for 35,542 violations of the Louisiana Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law and fined the company $7,250 for each violation. The state had asked for $10,000 for each violation, which would have cost the company more than $355 million.

Johnson & Johnson has indicated that it will appeal the ruling, saying the jury was not properly instructed and that critical evidence was wrongfully barred from the trial.

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4 comments

  1. julia Reply

    I have been complaining about this drug resperdal for over a year, my mother is 79 and she is on it when she entered the nursing home I was told that everyone is on it low dosage and it just help settle them . I didnt want her on it as I found her behaviour changed badly so I have pulled her out of the nursing home and she is home with me and I am at this stage trying to slowly get her off it… I would like to know does the australian doctors know of the this kick back ????

  2. Daniel Reply

    Glaxo whistle-blower gets $96 million.

    The case with the Zyprexa scandal is that Eli Lilly drug company pleaded guilty to criminal wrongs (“viva Zyprexa” campaign) the Zyprexa saga was rotten through and through.
    Eight Lilly EMPLOYEES got millions each as supposed informant ‘whistle blowers’.Lawyers on BOTH sides got millions and millions……most patient claimants who got sick are ‘mentally challenged’ and less able to advocate for themselves.
    The Class action Lawsuits in the US had payouts of $85,000 BUT the lawyers got 45 percent and then the govt got most of the rest for having to take care of the victim/patients medical expenses.Soooo,,,,$85K turned into about $9,000 for Zyprexa claimants many had their food stamps and other state benefits taken away because of their *windfall profit* making them worse off in the end.

  3. richard Reply

    all of the above is true.

  4. David Reply

    I have seen this drug (and others of the same class) destroy motivation,
    reduce mental capacity, and produce vicious movement disorders in a
    young male relative who was already compromised in these areas.
    I remain unconvinced that it is as helpful in reducing the aggression
    for which it is commonly prescribed as drugs of opposite effect or
    as enlightened care without drugs. In fact, it is AFTER
    mandated heavy use that the problem with aggression became
    intractable and even self-injury became common. Apparently
    rational analysis of side-effects versus benefits is beyond a lot of
    health care providers. Others lack courage to admit failure and try
    again, and so insist on ‘staying the course’. Sadly, the suffering
    of the mentally handicapped is not considered as significant as that
    of ‘normal’ people, their civil rights in Canada (and elsewhere too,
    I am sure) are more theoretical than real, and conscientious refusal
    of a particular treatment is not worth the paper it’s written on.
    By the way, the youth in question has called risperidone ‘false
    peace’ and ‘hell drug’.

    disabled persons in Canada are more theoretical than real,
    and that conscientious refusal of consent to a particular treatment
    carries no weight at all.

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