September 13, 2012

Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal Woes Roll On

By Jason Enzler

The hits keep coming for Johnson & Johnson.  On August 30, several state attorneys general announced that they have agreed to a $181 million settlement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a J & J subsidiary, regarding charges that the company was illegally promoting its antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega.  Click here for a press release from New York.  The settlement, involving 36 states and the District of Columbia, is the latest in the saga of the company’s Risperdal woes.  Just months ago, the federal government reached a $2.2 billion settlement involving similar charges (click here for our post on that settlement), which itself came on the heels of $1.8 billion in damages and fines that the company was hit with by judges and juries from Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the agreement is the largest multistate settlement with a pharmaceutical company based on consumer protection laws.  In announcing New York’s settlement, he stated “[t]his landmark settlement holds the companies accountable for practices that put patients in danger, and serves as a warning to other pharmaceutical giants that they must play by one set of rules.”  The charges included allegations that the company was promoting the drugs for unapproved uses and that the Risperdal drugs had not been tested adequately to designate them as safe and effective.  In addition to the monetary relief, the agreement includes several compliance requirements, including the implementation of polices to ensure that financial incentives are not offered to pharmaceutical reps to encourage sales of the drugs for unapproved uses and to employ scientists – as opposed to sales reps – to write the medical content about the drugs that will be given to health care providers.

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