The state of Arkansas is taking legal proceedings against a subsidiary of 'big pharma' company Johnson and Johnson over the marketing of an antipsychotic drug. The state claims that the drug's side effects were suppressed.
A subsidiary company of drugs giant Johnson and Johnson, called Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., allegedly improperly marketed an antipsychotic drug and misled doctors about the potential side effects of the medicine, according to a lawyer representing the state of Arkansas.
According to ABC News, the state of Arkansas is seeking the drugs company to be fined for each of the 250,000 Risperdal prescriptions issued to the state's Medicaid publicly. If the state is successful the court's award could range from $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion. All money would go into the Medicaid fund.
The side effects in question relate to diabetes and hormonal imbalance. The action is being taken under violated Arkansas' Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. The state claims that not only did the drugs company not publicise the side effects in its marketing information, it also misled doctors in a letter about the drug's risks.
Evidence from medical practitioners in Arkansas indicates that the drug caused deaths among elderly users and breast growth and lactation in young boys.
Bloomberg quotes the attorney for Arkansas saying "By the time this case is over, we will prove to you that Janssen lied about Risperdal’s dangers just to make money."
Janssen, through their legal team, are refuting both claims. James Simpson, a lawyer for Janssen said "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."
However, as PhillyPharma has reported, earlier in March 2012 a Texas judge Tuesday approved a $158 million settlement between Johnson & Johnson and the state of Texas over allegations that J&J's Janssen subsidiary illegally promoted Risperdal through the Medicaid program.
Risperdal was introduced in 1994 as a "second-generation" antipsychotic drug and was a successful revenue generating product for Janssen. The drug is is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability in autism patients.