Johnson & Johnson is no longer on the hook to pay the state of Louisiana $257.7 million for the way it marketed the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. At the end of January, the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a 2012 appeals court verdict which said J&J was liable for deceptive marketing.
In overturning the conviction, the appeals court decided there was not enough evidence that Louisiana’s healthcare assistance laws were violated.
Last November, Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen unit pled guilty to misbranding Risperdal as part of a $2.2 billion settlement following Department of Justice civil and criminal probes. An additional $73 million had been added in 2010 to cover the Louisiana state bill to cover lawsuit costs and attorneys’ fees.
Janssen executives were accused of writing to doctors to encourage they prescribe Risperdal to subdue elderly patients with dementia, children and the disabled while downplaying its link to diabetes. The drug was approved 20 years ago for the management of psychotic disorders alone and was not approved for use in children until 2006.
The off-label marketing occurred from 1999 through 2005. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the fine among the largest in U.S. history.
Lawyers arguing for Louisiana failed to prove that those statements made by company drug sales representatives somehow encouraged doctors to prescribe Risperdal. The company has stood by its position that Louisiana’s Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law was not violated, reports Bloomberg.
States don’t like it when they overpay for a drug, and in the case of Louisiana, its Medicaid program approved 1.6 million prescriptions at a cost of $42 million in 2003 and 2004.
Still ahead for Janssen, dozens of lawsuits filed by individuals prescribed Risperdal who developed side effects such as gynecomastia, where men develop breast tissue, allegedly as a result of the drug.
Later this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court will listen to J&J and Janssen appeal a $1.2 billion fine over the illegal marketing of the antipsychotic in that state.
Drug sales for Risperdal peaked in 2007 at $4.5 billion, putting it in blockbuster status just before it lost its patent protection.