Arkansas Hears Appeal of $1.2 Billion Risperdal Lawsuit Verdict

Published on February 27, 2014 by Laurie Villanueva

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Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit will attempt today to persuade the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn a $1.2 billion Risperdal lawsuit verdict won by the state in 2012. According to a report from the Associated Press, during oral arguments in Little Rock, the companies planned to argue that the verdict violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment.

The original lawsuit was filed by the Arkansas Attorney General, and had accused Johnson & Johnson and Janssen of concealing the risks associated with Risperdal, and of improperly marketing the antipsychotic medication for off-label uses.  After a Pulaski County jury ruled against the companies, the judge overseeing the case levied a $5,000 fine against the drug makers for each Risperdal prescription purchased through the state Medicaid program over a 3 ½ year period. Johnson & Johnson and Janssen were also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 for each of the more than 4,500 letters Janssen sent to Arkansas doctors to promote the use of Risperdal.

According to the Associated Press, in addition to putting forth the First Amendment argument, lawyers representing Johnson & Johnson and Janssen will also assert that the state improperly relied on federal regulations in bringing charges against the company.

For its part, the Arkansas Attorney General argued in a brief that the $1.2 billion fine assessed against the companies was “consistent with Arkansas law,” and was appropriate given their “serial violations of state law.”  The Associated Press report also noted that 65 Arkansas legislators signed a friend of the court brief saying the law was properly applied.

Johnson & Johnson Settles Federal Risperdal Lawsuit

While Johnson & Johnson is appealing this Risperdal lawsuit verdict, the company did agree in November to settle charges levied by the federal government over the marketing of Risperdal and other medications. That $2.2 billion accord ranks as the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Johnson & Johnson and Janssen continue to face a growing number of Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits, most of which are pending in a state mass tort litigation underway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gynecomastia is a condition characterized by the excessive growth of breast tissue in men and boys. According to plaintiffs in the Risperdal gynecomastia litigation, use of the drug can cause the body to produce excessive levels of prolactin, a hormone related to breast development and lactation in women.

If you or a loved one suffer from gynecomastia that may be related to the use of Risperdal, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. To arrange for a free case review with a Risperdal lawyer at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, please call today.